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Readers Respond: Do Poinsettia Plants Make You Sick?

Responses: 66


Poinsettia plants don't make you as sick upon ingestion as the myth claims, but some who have an allergic reaction to latex get sick just being around poinsettia plants. Do you experience this allergic reaction to poinsettia plants (or know somebody who does)? Symptoms include itchy throat and trouble breathing.

It's bad enough to learn you suffer from an allergic reaction to poinsettia plants upon receiving one as a gift. It's worse to discover that you have this health problem through exposure to displays of poinsettia plants at work or in apartment hallways -- where you may not have control over the matter.

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Poinsettia Plants -- Shortness of Breath

Yes, poinsettia plants contain a latex protein. People who have a latex allergy can get very sick even being in the room with them. I have a latex allergy and found this out the hard way. A member of the family brought a poinsettia plant into the house. I noticed that my throat started to itch and then, by the next day, I was really having trouble breathing. It just so happened that, that night, on our local news they were warning about it. We took the poinsettia plant outside and I started to get better. If you notice, well, around my hometown anyway, public places no longer put them on display. It's really too bad because they are really beautiful and so much a part of our holidays.
—Guest Rebecca

Poinsettia Plants and Latex Allergy

I am very glad to see that you have posted the info that Rebecca provided to you about natural rubber latex allergy. I don’t believe I know Rebecca, but I too have natural rubber latex allergy. This is a disabling & life threatening allergy. The poinsettia is only one of 40,000 items in everyday life that contains one or more of the 53 identified latex proteins at this time. Many gardening tools and gloves have rubber. Many gardening shoes do as well. Insecticides contain the chemicals used in latex glove production which make them lethal to any of us with natural rubber latex allergy. There are many plants whose DNA makeup is so close to latex that we have severe & life threatening reactions. I appreciate all that I have learned through About, & I’m thankful to give this comment.
—Guest connie

Even ACLU Offers No Help to Sufferer!

I never knew that others were allergic. Although I have never had any trouble with latex (as far as I know), poinsettia plants (or poison-ettas as my son used to call them) make me dangerously ill. I have to carry an epipen because if I walk into a building with one anywhere in it, I will have an anaphylactic reaction. Unfortunately, if I run into one and have to take my epipen, then I am supposed to go to the hospital which is full of them, making it the WORST place I can go. Further, when I tried to contact my congressman about it and its relation to the ADA and my employment, he snubbed me saying it was so rare, that it wasn’t a big enough problem for him to make an issue. The ACLU turned me down too and we know how litigious they are. What kind of help is there?
—Guest Donna

Thought I Was Going to Pass Out

Thank you for this blog. I just had a terrible time breathing, my face turned stone cold and so did my hands. My throat felt like it was closing and I couldn't breathe. The only thing that had changed is that my friend just gave me a poinsettia at our Christmas party. My husband took very good care of me and found a ProAir inhaler for me so that I could breathe. Then, he suggested that I might be having an allergic reaction. I found this page and it has saved me a trip to the hospital. He took the plant outside too!
—Guest Dee

Terrified at Christmas

I have had a latex allergy most of my adult life, but just developed a reaction to poinsettias in 2008. A friend brought me one, and when I picked it up (by the foil-wrapped pot), my tongue started swelling! My manager banned me from our building, and we're not allowed to work from home, so I have to sit in a nearby building, but their lobby and concourse levels are FULL of poinsettias. So, I have to drive to work (35 miles one way), park underground ($240/mth), and take the elevator straight to the top floor where our office is. I cannot go to the lobby at all. I do all my Christmas shopping online and have groceries delivered to the house if my husband can't go get them. I'm terrified to walk into public buildings, doctors' offices, etc. I looked into an Epipen and I think I will ask my doctor about it. She had said to carry Benadryl, but I don't think that will react quickly enough. I am hoping I will "outgrow" this allergy in a few years. Has anyone else had that happen?
—Guest Ellin

Passed Out Near Poinsettia Plants

Thank you so much for starting this dialoque. I first learned I was allergic to poinsettia plants when I was 12 years old. Whenever I tell someone I am allergic, they look at me like I am nuts! I develop breathing problems, from which I once passed out……right next to the poinsettia. Fortunately, someone was there with me. This can be a very dangerous, life-threatening allergy. Please continue to spread the word. Thanks.
—Guest Karen

Poinsettias = Danger

My son spent the night at his grandparents when he was younger and their poinsettia plant had ladybugs on it. He played with the ladybugs (therefore touching the leaves) for hours and woke up half way through the night unable to catch his breath, wheezing and blue. Luckily they removed him from the house, brought him home and his symptoms subsided. Scary.
—Guest Karen

Allergic to Poinsettias

Since I was a kid I've always had a reaction to poinsettias. I've experienced shortness of breath which leads to headaches, light headed feelings, and also hives.
—Guest Cole

Allergic to Poinsettia Flowers

I love poinsettias and didn't really notice the allergy until lately in my new home. I had been losing my voice and choking and had real bad shortness of breath. One night it hit me like a lightening bolt that it might be the poinsettias and we put them in the porch. Sure enough, within a couple of days, everything got better. Wow, I was glad. I wonder if I should carry an Epi shot. I am allergic to daffodils, too.
—Guest Maureen

Poinsettia Milk Causing Severe Eye Edema

I was cleaning and vacuuming last night and pulling out old dry leaves and branches from plants that I keep inside for winter and ended up with my eyes blown up to where I could barely see. The culprit was my poinsettia. The milk stuck to my fingers and apparently I touched my face/eyes. NEVER again. I found some old Benadryl but they are so swollen it will take a few days to not look like a freak. UGH!
—Guest Patricia

I'm So Sorry.

I, fortunately, am not allergic to the beautiful plant. I am so sorry that so many of you are. I had no idea. I usually buy my poinsettias very early in the season, carefully watering them so they don't dry out and die before the culmination of the holidays (as they tend to do). I can't imagine not having them but I'm so glad that those who are reacting to them are finding out. I have a similar reaction to fresh eucalyptus. Almost as soon as I smell it, I start feeling congestion in my chest and develop a strange cough. Sort of a huh HUH. I have asthma and chronic bronchitis so I stay away from that plant.
—Guest cmc37

Poinsettia Allergy

I moved to a new apartment complex last summer. The first of December over 500 poinsettias were delivered to complex, 1 for each apartment, for the lobby etc. I started having chest respiratory problems almost immediately. Now I am afraid to go to the lobby to get mail, etc.
—Guest DonnaSaras

Poinsettia Allergies Can Be Severe

Yes, I definitely have reactions to poinsettias. I get a tightness in my chest immediately, and then the breathing problems start. In a few moments, I get a scratchy/tingly throat, and usually end up having to leave immediately. If I stay I will start to get an anaphylaxis reaction. My allergy started when I was about 5, when my mom brought home a poinsettia and we ended up in the hospital for breathing problems; we went home and then straight back to the hospital. The allergy has progressively gotten worse over the years. I had to prove my allergy to my doctors as they did not believe me at first. That was so sad, to go to the extent of having to prove your illness because it is not common. I am so happy to know that I am not alone in this! Thank you for posting this information, I am very appreciative of you all. Have safe holidays!
—Guest Robert

Poinsettias Making Me Feel Awful

I have been sneezing and have to keep a tissue at my nose. I just keeps running. I bought 4 beautiful poinsettias and haven't felt right since. I found this website, and now...my neighbor is enjoying them! We'll see how I feel now that they're gone.
—Guest linda

Allergy: Poinsettias

My symptoms include: scratchy throat, tight chest, headache, severe itching. And Benadryl and topical sprays do not work to alleviate symptoms. I have latex allergy and this plant is also in the rubber tree family. I had direct contact with the milk of the plant when removing leaves. This plant is obviously toxic.
—Guest Donna Brisendime-McDowell

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Do Poinsettia Plants Make You Sick?

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