Gardeners don’t protect their hands, says survey

More than two thirds of the UK’s gardeners don’t protect their hands while gardening, according to a survey which also says more than a quarter of gardeners know they suffer from skin conditions, such as hand eczema.

The research revealed skin problems were so serious in 67% of gardeners, they had sought professional medical treatment, with more than one in ten (16%) being forced to stop gardening because their condition was chronic.

Only 31% of those questioned always wear gloves to safeguard their hands from potentially dangerous plants and chemicals, yet more than a fifth (23%) admitted certain plants caused skin problems. Seemingly harmless flowers such as chrysanthemums, tulips and Alstromeria can be a trigger for hand eczema or hand dermatitis. The drying effect of soil can also affect the skin.

The research was carried out by www.myhandeczema.co.uk to raise awareness of skin problems amongst the 41 million people in the UK who have access to a garden. It is backed by leading horticultural experts who are encouraging the gardening community to take greater care of their green fingers.

Said BBC gardening presenter Alys Fowler, who suffers from eczema, “My hands are my livelihood so I always look after the skin on my hands as much as I care for my plants. There are many hidden dangers in the garden and your hands are constantly exposed to the elements. What look like beautiful flowers can actually cause some very ugly skin reactions, so familiarise yourself with irritant or allergic plants and handle them with care.”

Added Alys, who fronts BBC’s The Edible Garden and has presented Gardeners’ World, “If you do suffer from a skin problem like hand eczema, seek help from a dermatologist or skin specialist as soon as possible. I know from experience that the longer you leave it, the more severe the condition can get, leaving you unable to continue your hobby or, in some cases, even carry on working.”

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