Irritants and Allergens

There are also several types of skin irritations caused by plants. Some plants, such as stinging nettle (Urtica spp.) and buttercups (Ranunculus spp.), have chemicals in their sap or hairs that can be irritating when they come in contact with skin. Some plants contain allergens, causing irritation to the skin of those sensitized to them. Most people find, for example, that they are allergic to poison ivy, and its relatives, poison oak and poison sumac (Toxicodendron spp.). While not everyone reacts to these plants, most people do, especially after an initial exposure. Sometimes allergic reactions to these plants are serious enough to lead to hospitalization.

Many people also experience individual allergies to plants and mushrooms that are edible to the general population. Allergies to specific food plants, such as peanuts, lentils, or wheat, can be very serious. In some cases, these otherwise edible species are deadly poisonous allergens for those affected. Plant allergies, including hay fever, can develop at any age and may be alleviated by a program of immunization.

The American fly agaric (Amanita muscaria), a common poisonous mushroom.

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