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Can Tomato Plants Irritate Skin – Preventing Rashes

Tomatoes are a staple of many kitchens and gardens across the world, but you might not know that the plants they grow on are toxic. Tomatoes are one of the fruits that’s perfectly safe for us to eat, but the rest of the plant isn’t. Sometimes touching them might even make you wonder, can tomato plants irritate skin?

In some cases, tomato plants can irritate the skin. The small fibers on the tomato plants are covered in plant-produced chemicals that can bother your skin. Redness, mild swelling, and itching are all signs of tomato irritation.

Not everyone needs to be careful around tomatoes, but some people need to be extremely careful around tomato plants if they’re going to grow them. Here’s what you need to know about contact dermatitis from tomato plants, why it happens, the signs that you’re sensitive, and what that means about you and tomatoes. 

Can Tomato Plants Give A Rash? 

Yes! Rashes from tomato plants are called tomato contact dermatitis, and it’s not super common, but getting a rash from tomato plants isn’t uncommon either. 

Signs of a tomato rash are usually redness, some mild swelling, and extreme itching. In some cases, you may also get hives or smaller raised bumps on your skin, but those are rarer than the redness and itching. 

Rashes are some of the more severe reactions to tomato plants, but almost anyone working with tomatoes may notice some mild redness or itching. After all, tomato plants evolved to have a lot of protection from animals that want to eat them, which means that they have a lot of surface chemicals designed to irritate most animals. 

So, while you might not get a rash from working with tomatoes, it’s a good idea to wash off any skin that’s touched them and to use lotion and soothing creams to help calm any reactions you do have. 

For rashes, you may want to consult with a doctor on your best options. They may recommend long sleeves for working with tomato plants or give you recommendations on which medicated creams and lotions are likely to be most helpful. 

Why Do Tomato Plants Sometimes Cause A Rash? 

The rash some people get from tomato plants is usually a combination of the chemicals the tomato produces to irritate skin and deter herbivores from eating them and heightened sensitivity in the people who get the rash. 

There are many reasons you might have a stronger reaction than normal to tomato plants. 

You might be more sensitive to nightshade vegetables and the chemicals they produce to discourage herbivores from eating them. 

You’re also more likely to get a rash from tomato plants if you’re allergic to tomatoes or all the nightshade family’s vegetables. 

You may also have more sensitive skin, and you’re more likely to get a rash if your skin is already dry, sunburned, or otherwise irritated. 

In some cases, you may even get a one-time rash not because you’re sensitive but because you just had a lot more exposure to the chemicals in the tomato plants than usual. 

Or, in some cases, you might be particularly sensitive to certain cultivars of tomatoes, particularly heirloom tomatoes, and need to switch to growing different types of tomato plants to avoid getting the rash. 

There are many reasons why tomato plants can cause rashes, and it can be hard to tell exactly what the reason is, especially if you react for the first time. Doctors or dermatologists may be able to help you identify the cause, but they may not. 

Ultimately, if you get a rash from tomatoes, it’s probably going to happen again, and it’s up to you to decide if you want to learn to deal with the rash or want to avoid tomatoes in your garden in the future. 

Do Tomatoes Trigger Eczema? 

Tomato plants can trigger eczema, though not everyone with eczema reacts to tomato plants. 

Eczema means that your skin is more sensitive and a lot more likely to react to irritants like tomato plants, but it doesn’t guarantee that tomatoes are going to be on the list of things that can cause an eczema flare.

However, once tomatoes trigger an eczema flare, it may be a little harder to treat because there was a more seriously irritating trigger to the flare, so it might take a little longer for your skin to heal, even with the most effective eczema treatments for you. 

If You’re Allergic To Tomato Greenery, Are You Allergic To The Fruit? 

While being allergic to tomatoes makes it a little more likely to react to tomato plants, it doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily allergic to the fruit. 

Thankfully reacting to one doesn’t guarantee a reaction to the other. You might need to trade for your tomatoes instead of growing them for yourself. 

Things To Consider

Like a lot of allergies and sensitivities, reactions to tomato plants often get worse over time. That’s important to know because you need to take steps to protect yourself from future reactions once you’ve had a tomato reaction. 

It’s good to make sure you’re extra careful around tomato plants for at least a few weeks after your first reaction. That will give your skin and immune system a chance to rest and reset after the reaction. 

Thick gardening gloves and long sleeves are usually enough to prevent a reaction when it comes to tomatoes. 

However, you might want to wear extra layers or avoid trimming your tomatoes for a while to help avoid exposure to the chemicals that cause the irritation in the first place. 

When you’re considering different cultivars of tomatoes after a reaction, consider trying a different variety of tomatoes or one that’s a different type of tomato (like trying cherry tomatoes instead of slicing tomatoes) to see if you’re less reactive with a different type of tomato.