Monday, June 06, 2005

Wild Parsnip OUCH! Painful! (and not pretty)


Quick! Try to say this three times fast:


What does that word mean? how about a good definition from the June 1999 issue of
Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine

"There are chemicals in wild parsnip called psoralens (precisely, furocoumarins) that cause what dermatologists call "phyto-photo-dermatitis." That means an inflammation (itis) of the skin (derm) induced by a plant (phyto) with the help of sunlight (photo). When absorbed by skin, furocoumarins are energized by ultraviolet light (present during sunny and cloudy days) causing them to bind with nuclear DNA and cell membranes. This process destroys cells and skin tissue, though the reaction takes time to produce visible damage."

Guess who has been occasionally working in the back yard clearing the areas that haven't been touched in 35 years? I started noticing a bit of a itching on Monday May 30th, saw a bit of what looked like maybe poison ivy on Tuesday. Had enormous blisters on both of my arms on Wednesday. I was sure it couldn't get any worse, but by Thursday I ended up wrapping both arms in gauze bandanges so the blisters wouldn't weep through my shirts at work. Finally went to the doc on Friday. When I said I knew we had already cleared all the poison ivy, she took out a picture of wild parsnip and asked if we had any. We have quite a bit in the yard I said, and she gave me the info cited above. Just in case it was poison ivy I get to take all the steroids and antihistimines too, but they really won't do much for wild parsnip.

Here's how I look one week after the blisters started to appear:

I'm feeling better thanks, but my family really does not like me on steroids. The up side could be that I might be able to move the 8.5 foot long radiator without any help.


Serendipity House said...

Ouch! Boy, I tell just never know what you're going to encounter on an older home, do ya? My husband wound up in the hospital for three days fighting off blood poisoning after working in the pachysandra around our house! (long story on my journal) Glad you're going to be ok!


Anonymous said...

Wrap the Wild Parsnip in heavy duty aluminum foil and put in microwave on high for 27 minutes. That should do the trick. Also would work on the ground hog.