Thursday 26 June 2014

Strimmer Rash

I have discovered one of the risks of letting the grass and wild flora grow in the Orchard. I woke this morning to find red blotches, weals and some blisters on my arms. It is where they'd been exposed to a combination of the debris from weed strimming and direct sunlight. It is apparently called Phytophotodermatitis  caused by the sap of Hogweed and Cow Parsley (Umbelliferae species) from the strimming debris causing my skin to react to the sunlight. There's an article about it here.  

Fortunately I'd been wearing gauntlets and a full face visor/helmet while using the brush cutter/strimmer a couple of days ago, so it is only my forearms which have been affected. Owing to the warm summer weather I was wearing a short sleeve shirt. I should have known better. This should clear up in a week or two, thanks to the ministrations of a friendly Nurse Practitioner who diagnosed and recommended treatment.

In future I'll wear a full body disposable coverall protective garment when I do this type of work on the orchard. They are not expensive. They have elasticated cuffs. The downside is the protective suits get quite warm if one is active. You just might see me taking some clothes off before donning the bunny suit.

Note I am talking about Common Hogweed (Heracleum Sphondylium) which has leaves that can be cooked and eaten when young. The Giant Hogweed (Heracleum Mantegazzianum) is much more nasty proposition, I'd wear protective clothing and a flame gun to remove that!

Treatment: In my case, antihistamine tablet followed by twice daily hydrocortisone 1% cream lightly applied to the affected areas. At night an application of sudocrem on the affected areas. Gently wash twice a day using tea tree oil shower gel and pat affected areas dry with a clean towel. The sudocrem and tea tree oil reduce the chance of secondary bacterial or fungal infection. 

Note (17/04/2015) that the damage to my skin persisted for several months

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