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?
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
I don't approve of political jokes. I've seen too many of them get elected.
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:
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
As a result of this i now put a chunk of flea collar inside my dust
collection bags. This will prevent the problem
"Women should be obscene and not heard." Groucho Marx
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 ...
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
Allergic reactions can occur with repeated exposure... You can get
stung by a wasp 100 times, and the 101st can kill you.
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.
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
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
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.
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.)
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < email@example.com>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
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.
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.
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
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.
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