Preventing skin irritation and damage
Wear thick gardening gloves while handling plants. Invest in a pair of leather gardening gloves to prevent any thorns or sharp objects from cutting through them and stabbing your hands. Make sure the gloves fit your fingertips exactly and that they aren’t too tight when you clench your fist. Avoid handling any of your plants without gardening gloves since the plants could have sap or chemicals that may irritate your skin.
- You can give your skin a little extra protection by applying a layer of petroleum jelly to your hands and putting on some latex or nitrile gloves. Then, put on your gardening gloves on top of those.
- Keep a few pairs of gardening gloves in your home so you have spares in case you accidentally rip or tear one.
- There are many types of gardening gloves that each have specialized purposes. For example, you may get pruning gloves to cover more skin and work with delicate plants.
Put on sturdy shoes while you’re working outside. Look for shoes that are comfortable to wear, waterproof, and flexible so you can easily get to your plants. For the maximum amount of protection, wear rubber boots so water can’t get inside and to keep your feet safe from any sharp tools you’re using. If you want something more casual, wear rubber slip-on shoes for walking around your garden doing simple tasks, like pruning.
- Keep your gardening shoes clean after you’re done working for the day so they don’t get caked with dirt or mud.
- Avoid wearing slip-on shoes while watering or working with pesticides and fertilizers so you don’t get wet or expose your skin to the chemicals.
Learn to identify poison ivy, oak, and sumac to prevent rashes and irritation. Poison ivy, oak, and sumac have chemicals on their leaves and sap that can cause itching or rashes when they come into contact with your skin. Take some time to familiarize yourself with what each plant looks like so you can identify them if they’re in your area. When you find any, be careful not to touch them or only handle them if you’re wearing gloves.
- Poison ivy has 3 leaves at the end of each of its reddish stems, and the vines may have a hairy appearance.
- Poison oak can grow as a shrub or a vine and has 3 dark green leaves at the end of each of its red stems. The leaves and stems have “hairs” on both sides, and they produce tan-colored berries.
- Poison sumac is a tree that has leaves that look like a feather, and the stems have a reddish color. The tree can grow up to 30 feet (9.1 m) tall.
Clean any wounds immediately to prevent infection. If you ever puncture your gloves or break your skin by scratching it on a plant, take off your gloves and stop gardening immediately. Wash off the wound with warm, soapy water and apply an antibacterial cream or spray so it doesn’t get infected. Wrap the wound in a bandage before continuing gardening so you don’t expose it to any harmful materials.
- You can also keep antibacterial creams or sprays out with you while you’re gardening to treat the wound right away. Wash the wound as soon as you’re able to ensure it doesn’t get infected.
- If you punctured through a pair of gloves, then use a different pair when you continue gardening so you don’t reintroduce any bacteria.
Shower and change your clothes when you’re finished gardening. Once you finish gardening for the day, take a shower once to rinse off any chemicals or plant bacteria that you may have gotten on your skin while you were working. After that, put on a fresh change of clothes so you don’t accidentally spread or expose yourself to irritants again.
Do an oatmeal soak to help alleviate any itching or rashes. Oatmeal can soothe your skin to help relieve pain from rashes or itching. Fill a large mixing bowl with ¼ cup (25 g) of dry rolled oats and pour in 1⁄2 gallon (1.9 L) of warm water. Put your hands or the affected area in the bowl and let them soak for 10-15 minutes to help reduce any itchiness and pain. When you’re finished, rinse your hands and moisturize them with lotion so your hands don’t dry out any more.
- If you want to do a full body soak, then add ½ cup (50 g) of oats to a full bathtub instead.