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Poisonous... flowers, roots, insects...? Advice, please !

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Offline Michael

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« on: March 08, 2010, 07:19 AM »
Hi, my name is Michael I am fairly new to the area, saw this site and found it great a while ago and have enjoyed the knowledge you guys have about the area immensely.... now I have a problem/question, and am convinced that somewhere HERE will know the answer!
Several times over the past year - after having worked in the garden/soil -both myself and my son have developed an EXTREMELY ITCHY RASH on wrists, underarms and then within an hour or two spreading to the whole stomach and the back.
The rash starts as small whitish blisters, then becoming red and irrtated, hundreds of them. They last for at least a week.
I am NO idea why this happens.... The clue may be that we have been working in soil which has long been left UNtouched and that the rash may have been caused by some kind of insect bite or? Or poisenous plants? Plant roots?
The rash does not seem to react much to creams or anti-histamins... but goes away slowly after about 8-10 days of terrible itching....
Yesterday, my son 'caught it' after having played down by the river....
Anybody has had a similar experience?
Anybody has any ideas?  What to do?
« Last Edit: March 08, 2010, 08:51 AM by nick »

Offline nick

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« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2010, 08:51 AM »
Hi Michael and welcome,

Sorry to hear about this. Must be very distressing. There are lots of possible culprits as the Mediterranean's plants and animals seem to delight these forms of defence and attack. I'm sure some of the erudite bestie experts here on the forum will be able to help you whittle things down, though I guess it could be difficult without prima evidence. I guess a photo of the rash and a photo of your garden might help.

Anyway, my first stab is:

I don't suppose you have got lots of pine trees, have you?

One possibility

http://www.google.es/#hl=es&q=pine+processionary+rash&meta=&aq=f&oq=pine+processionary+rash&fp=b25391ecd9f07007

« Last Edit: March 08, 2010, 08:54 AM by nick »
Nick
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Offline Michael

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« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2010, 09:29 AM »
Hi NIck, and THANKS for prompt reply/suggestion.....
Well, funnny you should ask about the pine trees..... we DO have quite a few pines around, and just yesterday my son was indeed fiddling with a littlepine tree he dug up and wanted to plant somewhere else in the garden......
I've just talked to our neighbour - an great old Spanish guy - he has a bit of a heavy local accent and my ear is still not quite tuned in to that - but he ALSO immediately mentioned the pine trees as a possible 'source', he also mentioned that his own daughter has had that kind of rash several times..... 
Maybe you know what exactly it is with these pines and this rash?
My neighbour also suggested putting on a mixture of water and a bit of vinegar.... ?

Offline nick

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« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2010, 09:35 AM »
It's the caterpillars

Check out Sue and Clive's excellent article here

http://www.wildsideholidays.com/natural/insects-and-creepy-crawlies/99-moths/319-the-pine-processionary-caterpillar-and-its-life-cycle.html

Quote
And so on to the dangers involved, the best advice is to avoid these innocent looking creatures at all costs. The caterpillars are covered in tiny barbed hairs which are their defence mechanism. These hairs are often being shed and so can be airborne around infested pine trees, on the branches where they have travelled and also left in the line of the migrating procession.

When humans and our pets come into contact with these hairs, they can cause reactions ranging from mild inflammation and irritation to severe anaphylactic shock. The worst problems occur if you make contact with the caterpillar directly and ingest the hairs, either by picking it up, stepping on it or moving them in some manner. Once on your skin a rash soon forms which can be incredibly itchy. Medical advice should be sought if you are unfortunate enough to experience this. The rash can be painful, very itchy and lasts for as much as three weeks.


Also have a look at one of our old threads:

http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php?topic=64.0
Nick
http://iberianature.com/barcelona/history-of-barcelona/spanish-civil-war-tour-in-barcelona/
Spanish Civil War Tours in Barcelona
http://www.iberianature.com/
A guide to the environment, climate, wildlife, & nature of Spain
The Amazon/Forum Bookshop - lend us a hand
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/shop/index.htm
And also now The Natural History of Britain
http://iberianature.com/brita

Offline Michael

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« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2010, 09:49 AM »
Hi again Nick, YES, just read the links - and I am sure you are right, thank you very very much for your help. My wife has taken our son to the medical centre in any case, in the hope that they would give him some kind of 'oinkment' to ease the itching (I had it twice last Summer myself and it was really annoyingly itching! REALLY!).
I am sure you right - to add to it - my kids even saw a line of these caterpillars - and so sweet they are looking, aren't they ! - on our terrace yesterday, although they did not touch them, it obviously is proof that they are close by.......
Once again, thanks.

Offline nick

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« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2010, 10:35 AM »
Great, Michael! Pleased to be able to help.
Nick
http://iberianature.com/barcelona/history-of-barcelona/spanish-civil-war-tour-in-barcelona/
Spanish Civil War Tours in Barcelona
http://www.iberianature.com/
A guide to the environment, climate, wildlife, & nature of Spain
The Amazon/Forum Bookshop - lend us a hand
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/shop/index.htm
And also now The Natural History of Britain
http://iberianature.com/brita