sawdust allergy???

Is there such a thing as an allergy to sawdust, affecting the skin?
My problem has been a sudden attack of very dry skin on my knuckles, leaving them cracked, red and extremely sore. This despite the fact that the rest of my skin is fine, not dry at all. The reason I suspect it is sawdust is that it seems to get worse when I'm in my workshed. I've never had such a problem before, and its onset coincided with my taking up woodwork. I've been working with oak, some teak (very oily), and a little softwood. I should also say that it began when I was doing something nasty with white spirit and got some on my hands. However, I haven't touched white spirit since - and my exposure to dust seems to bring on the skin problem, and this has been going on for four months. Any clues?
- Bernie.
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Bernie Ross asks:

You probably need to check with an allergist, but skin reactions to woods are not at all uncommon. First, woodworking dries the hands out badly anyway, so you could be starting from that point. Second, you might have sensitized yourself with your "white spirit" so that light allergies to other substances are no longer light.
Have you tried wearing gloves? Some of these new gloves are pretty good at allowing you to retain your grip...I've got a pair from McFeely's that are really good. Failing that, the very thin nitrile (not latex) gloves might be helpful. Teak is probably your source of trouble instead of oak, but even oak can create allergic reactions in some people.
Check out: http://www.city-net.com/albertfp/toxic.htm http://home.vicnet.net.au/~woodlink/dust.htm
Charlie Self I don't approve of political jokes. I've seen too many of them get elected.
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In addition to Charlie's thoughts I find that in the winter months I experience the same thing and use a couple of different hand creams to keep my hands from cracking. The solvent you used is very good at removing the protective oily layer next to the skin leaving it prone to dry out. Cheers, JG
Charlie Self wrote:

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Charlie Self wrote:
<snip>

A skin barrier cream might also work.
-- Jack Novak Buffalo, NY - USA (Remove "SPAM" from email address to reply)
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When my lilaws moved we had to clean out the garage which had alot of sawdust. My sister-in-law had a nasty skin reaction. Turned out that it was from sawdust mites. Looked like a ton of tiny pin pricks or chigger bites.
As a result of this i now put a chunk of flea collar inside my dust collection bags. This will prevent the problem
Dusty
"Women should be obscene and not heard." Groucho Marx
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I've been working with red oak lately, and it's pretty irritating to my eyes, nose and lungs; western red cedar is a real killer for me. While any slivers in my fingers are irritating, I haven't had the skin rash you describe though. The advise to try gloves seems like a good idea. We buy the latex gloves by the 100's, and I use them when finishing (my wife uses them to pull weeds in the garden!). Some people are allergic to latex. My respirator is latex, and I WILL get a red rash on my face if I wear it very long while sweating. Hands are OK though ...
Good luck,
Scott
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Man red oak eats my skin up, I take a shower when leaving the shop. I also have to take a damp cloth and wipe the inner edge of my eyelids or it feels like I got sawdust in my eyes all night.
KY
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Red oak doen't bother me, but cocobolo will trigger a histamine reaction PDFQ. It came on suddenly about the third time I worked with it.
Allergic reactions can occur with repeated exposure... You can get stung by a wasp 100 times, and the 101st can kill you.
djb
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Oh crap!!!! 101 times??? I think I'll stay indoors for the rest of my life! <G>
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Not quite the same, but I know walnut and Oak "Kills" My sininues.(sp?) Had a girlfriend once, We used my shop's Shop Vac on the ft. porch carpet, Shop vac had a lot of walnut and Oak dust in it, And she broke out like crazy the next day, puffy eyes, skin rash,etc. Tony D.

leaving
rest
is
a
I've
spirit
are
so
substances
be
oak
elected.
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Trees have been pumping out chemicals to foil or kill their enemies for millions of years. They would be more available with freshly crushed fibers, like sawdust, and can cause a reaction without warning even in those previously used to a free ride. Contact dermatitis would be the least of the reactions.
That said, it's winter, things are dry, I know I'm prone to dry skin around the knuckles, and organic solvents certainly won't help moisturize. Rub some oil into your hands after abusing them - olive is good, and see if it doesn't pass.

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a
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I get the exact same condition. I use Suave hand creme and it has stopped. It started for me after I had been doing some sanding (I do alot of that) but try that it will help
Rich

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I get dry skin on my knuckles so bad that it cracks and bleeds. It's especially bad in the winter. The only thing I find that helps is "Burt's Bees Hand Salve". I get it from Lee Valley, but I've seen it in health stores too. It is really greasy though so I only use it at night.

sawdust
I
and
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My wife uses Jim's Crack Cream and some Cow Utter Balm for that. You'd be surprised how good it works.
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KYHighlander wrote:

Wow, I can get a cream for my crack? Cool. :)
(Actually, my crack has been cracked since high school. Situps on a hard floor. I cracked my crack, and the damn thing has never healed right in all these years.)
(TMI, yeah, yeah, well, you started it.)
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Not only the dry air but lack of sunshine is also bad on the skin. A lot of Dermatologists recommend tanning beds in moderation for Psoriasis (sp)
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Yes there is but it may simply be a matter of dry skin. Woodworking tends to dry the hands of their natural oils.
Before you get too involved with trying to make something that may be simple too complicated, borrow some of you wife's/girl friend/mistress/ which ever's skin lotion and try that for a week or so.
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Yes there is allergys to wood or at least he oils in it. I gave a friend some walnut for a project a few months ago. His son helped him carry it in the house and within a few minutes his son's arms had broken out in a rash. Since my friends shop is in the basement I got the walnut boards back, he didn't want dust from that floating anywhere in the house. As mentioned by others it's likely the teak.
Rick
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On Sat, 28 Feb 2004 08:36:46 GMT, "Bernie Ross"

Yes! You may be allergic to a specific wood. Buy a box of disposable latex gloves. Rub a dab of Vaseline petroleum jelly (or Eucerine) on your hands soon after showering. I did this per recommendation of a doctor, and my skin has never become chapped. I also wear gloves often. I don't know your age, but the older you get, the drier the skin. You may want to change to Dove soap (I use the unscented Dove).
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I get what sounds like the exact same condition but I always blamed the type of hand soap that I use, at least in part. I have the problem no matter what type of wood I use. Since I'm frequently taking care of my 8 and 5 year old kids while I'm working I have to wash my hands a lot. I switched from Dawn hand and dish soap to Palmolive and the condition improved a lot. I think the Dawn is a better grease cutter so it probably was also sucking more of the natural oils out of my hands than the less effective Palmolive does. It still flares up though so I also use a good hand cream. That helps too.
Bruce Redding, Ca.

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