Allergic Reactions to Wood

Sawmiller show and tell about rashes and respiratory reactions to contact with various wood species. October 20, 2005

Question
This batch of really painful blisters on my arms was caused by the sawdust from a batch of teak I was planing. My face has always been that way.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
Contact dermatitis caused by teak? That looks bad. I've reacted to fresh black walnut, and will be milling some teak soon. Thanks for the heads-up - I'll be careful...



My forearms have been itching like crazy lately. I've been resawing Bloodwood, Leopardwood, and Purpleheart. Anyone out there react to any of those?


I had a similar reaction to OSB, of all things. Much smaller dots from t-shirt sleeve to the wrist.


I don't get the skin irritations, but I definitely get the lung effects. Padauk seems to be the worst. Every time I cut and sand it, it feels like fire is crawling up my nose. Bocote is nasty, too. The first time I cut it I thought I was back in the gas chamber at Basic Training breathing CS gas. A reaction to OSB is pretty common. I'm a framing carpenter, and I always react to it. My nose immediately plugs up and starts running, and I sneeze repeatedly throughout the day. Itís not the wood (since it's just poplar) - it's the formaldehyde. OSB emits formaldehyde gas for quite a few days after it's made.


I heard teak swells testicles in men overexposed to the oil in the wood. Also, ironwood sawdust from the southwest US is bad on lungs.


The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor N:
I got an almost identical reaction (smaller blisters) when I was milling fresh green walnut logs with the bark still on last summer. I can't seem to find a huge amount of information about it, but I'm under the impression that the juglone toxin concentration is higher in the bark and underlying tissue than in the heartwood. In any case, I got less of a reaction (and less orange-brown stains on my exposed skin) the last time I milled a log, and used a bark spud to remove the bark first!