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Mr. Smarty Plants - Treating stings from stinging nettles in Indiana

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Saturday - August 08, 2009

From: LaPorte, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Medicinal Plants, Problem Plants
Title: Treating stings from stinging nettles in Indiana
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How can I remove hairlike thorns (as from nettle-type weed)? My hands react within 24 hours with swelling and pain, esp in morning. In past when I have then been able to locate the offending thorn, the symptoms disappear within 24 hours. This time, despite plastic gloves, I felt the sting but am now unable to see any thorns, they are so tiny. Is there anything one could use to soak out microscopic thorns, a balm or salts? Or any other remedy? Had steroids in past but did not go away til I could remove thorn.

ANSWER:

We are gardeners, not doctors, and we would not presume to make any treatment suggestions. Urtica dioica (stinging nettle) is a fascinating plant, edible (after being cooked), used for generations as a herbal medicine for various ailments, and with spines that can inject a chemical cocktail, including histamines, seratonin and formic acid, the same stuff many venomous insects carry.  We found a WikiHow website, How to Treat a Sting from a Stinging Nettle. Remember, these are not our recommendations, just ideas you can try at your own risk.

We do have a couple of recommendations, however. The first is, try to eliminate the plant from your landscape. The second is to use leather gloves. And see a doctor.

Pictures of Urtica dioica (stinging nettle)

 

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