The pollen produced by many flowers exacerbates allergy symptoms, and people with allergies often avoid fresh flowers. Most species of orchids don't produce pollen allergies, but may cause allergic reactions from contact. If you handle an orchid and notice a skin rash shortly after, you may be allergic to the sap from the flowers. Talk with your doctor about an appropriate treatment.
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Contact dermatitis is the medical term for an allergic reaction that appears on your body after touching an irritant, in this case an orchid. The condition is characterized by red bumps, itching, dry or cracked skin, blisters and pain. The severity of the symptoms depends on the amount of contact you experienced and your sensitivity to orchids.
If you experience an allergic reaction to orchids, call your doctor. He may want to see the affected area or may prescribe a topical treatment that you can pick up at your pharmacy or purchase over the counter. In addition to ointment creams, your doctor may recommend using wet compresses on the area to reduce the itchiness and discomfort. If your allergic reaction is severe or keeps appearing without your knowledge of an orchid allergy, you may have to take oral medications until you figure out the cause.
Untreated contact dermatitis caused by orchids may result in complications, particularly in severe reactions. Skin changes may occur with continued scratching in the same place and include tough, leathery patches of skin. The topical ointments that are often prescribed reduce the itching, making it important to continue use to keep yourself from damaging the skin that came into contact with an orchid. Opening your skin through scratching poses the risk of introducing bacteria that could lead to a skin infection. It can be introduced from your fingernails or brushing against something with the affected area. If you break the skin, keep it covered to prevent this from occurring.
If you love orchids and don't want to avoid having them around you, a few precautions can protect you from an allergic reaction. When watering or pruning your orchids, wear gloves to protect your hands and cover any other body part that may touch the orchid to prevent exposure to the sap of the flower. If accidental contact does happen, wash the affected area right away and apply any prescribed medications. Allergic reactions to orchids are not contagious and aren't likely to spread to other areas of your body, but if they do, call your doctor to rule out additional problems.