Why Does Gardening Make Me Itch?

Gardening is a wonderful activity: you’re out in the fresh air, you’re being active and creative, and making something beautiful for yourself. A day gardening will rack up several health points! Unfortunately, the garden isn’t always great for the skin: lots of things out there can make you itch or give you a nasty rash, especially if you’re prone to eczema or have sensitive skin

Here are some some possible culprits for gardening itch:

Irritating plants

No, not plants that refuse to grow where you want them to, but vegetation that defend themselves against predators with toxic substances. Stinging nettles are the most obvious of these, but there are many more to consider; these include plants that can irritate the skin when brushed against or broken, or if you touch their spines, sap or bristles. Aconite, alstroemeria, echium, chilli pepper plants, euphorbia, chrysanthemum, irises, narcissi, and oleander can all sometimes be irritating to the skin.

If you’ve been pulling up weeds all day and find blisters or burns on your skin, you should consider whether you’ve been in contact with plants such as hogweed and wild parsnip, whose sap reacts to sunlight on the skin, causing a blistering rash called phytophotodermatitis.


Pollen is a seasonal hazard for gardeners; some gardens are obviously more pollen-heavy than others, and some gardeners are more sensitive to the stuff than others, but while pollen is mostly known for triggering hayfever (which can make your eyes and nose itch like crazy) some can cause skin problems as well. Ragweed pollen, for example, can cause a nasty itchy burning rash on contact. 


Grass can be a problem too! It can cause hundreds of tiny cuts and abrasions; it can trigger contact dermatitis, and it can release hayfever-inducing pollen as well. Grass rash can appear as small red bumps where it’s come into contact with the skin.


Even simple dirt can make you itch! Being in contact with damp earth for a prolonged peroid can draw moisture from your skin leaving it dry and vulnerable to cracking. Digging in the earth can also release mould spores, pollen and other irritants. Add any injuries, however small, you might get while pruning, digging or weeding, and contact with earth can result in dry, itchy, sore hands.


Of course, a less natural cause of itchiness after gardening could be the chemicals used in gardens, which some people can be considerably more sensitive to than others. Fertilisers and pesticides are common triggers for reactions on sensitive skin.

What can you do about gardening rash?

The best way of avoiding getting itchy while gardening is to cover up! It might seem obvious, but it’s very easy to forget that any exposed skin is vulnerable to contact with irritants.

  • Wear gloves
  • Wear sturdy boots
  • Wear a broad-brimmed hat
  • Wear long sleeved tops and long trousers
  • Protect yourself from pollen with a smear of Skin Salvation balm around nostrils and eyes
  • Wear sunscreen
  • Take antihistamines
  • Change all your clothes and then shower when you come inside
  • Apply Cooling Cream to hives or rashes to calm inflammation

Recommended products:

Balmonds Skin Salvation
with hemp and beeswax

Balmonds Cooling Cream
with shea, menthol, aloe vera & lavender

Expert Advice

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