Hyacinth is a popular fall planted bulb for cheerful, fragrant spring blooms. These flowers are also among the most commonly used bulbs for indoor forcing, driving away winter glooms with fresh growing flowers. Unfortunately, hyacinth irritation can be an issue.
Learn more about this skin problem and how you can manage it while still enjoying hyacinths.
What is Hyacinth Bulb Itch?
If you have ever handled hyacinth bulbs, you may have experienced some degree of itchiness. Some people may feel nothing, others have a mild reaction, and some experience an intense itchy reaction to hyacinth bulbs.
An itchy reaction to bulbs is probably not a true hyacinth skin allergy. While it may be possible to be allergic to substances in the bulbs, most people who get itchy from handling them are experiencing irritation from a mineral known as calcium oxalate.
The crystals of calcium oxalate, which make up as much as six percent of the bulb, can become airborne, causing irritation on any exposed skin. Your hands may get especially itchy when handling hyacinth bulbs, but other areas of skin can also be affected.
How to Prevent and Treat Itchy Hyacinth Reactions
The best way to manage hyacinth bulb itch is to prevent it. Always wear gloves when handling the bulbs. Keep other areas of skin covered as much as possible to avoid contamination by airborne minerals.
Also, avoid working with hyacinth bulbs indoors and only handle them outdoors when the air is calm. Wind will kick up more of the irritating crystals.
If you do get affected by hyacinth irritation, the only way to treat it is to wash the area of skin with soap and water. The itch won’t last forever, but washing will bring quicker relief. An antihistamine may also help relieve the itching sooner.
It’s also important to note that hyacinth bulbs are toxic. It’s best to keep animals and children away when working with them.