Red bumps on my hands

When I work on junipers, pines and spruces I notice the next day my hands will have small red bumps all over them. They don’t necessarily hurt they just sting/itch a little. They usually go away within a week. I’m curious if anyone else experiences this? Does everyone experience this or only a selective number of people? Do I have some unknown to me allergy to the trees/needles?

I tried wearing gloves while working on the trees but I find it extremely difficult to work on the small detail stuff with gloves on. Any suggestions on how to prevent the skin irritation or any after care suggestions?


It sounds like some sort of an allergic reaction, perhaps to the trees, or perhaps to other tools or products that you use during that time. Like, maybe it’s the soil mix (if it happens more during repotting) or maybe the tool oil, if you use some. Could be lots of different things.

I sometimes use nitrile or vinyl gloves when I want a little more sensitivity with things, but they do tend to rip and tear pretty easily, especially when handling wire. I do tend to use leather gloves when repotting too, as most soil components bother my hands. Mostly dry and cracking though, not hives.

Thank you for the reply. I’m leaning towards the trees themselves because I don’t have any issues when working on maples or have any reactions to soil. Oddly enough I really only get them on the backside of my hands and any part of my wrist/forearm that isn’t covered by clothing.

You could get fingerless gloves that would protect the back of your hands. I’ve heard of people using a cream or wax on their skin to protect from minor skin rashes like this, but that might make it harder to work on trees too.

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Maybe pop an allergy pill next time and see if the reaction goes away or is diminished?

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You have Juniperitis…(a made up name for a minor condition) that I and many, many others suffer from due to sensitivity to the prickly irritants. I do not have it with pines but most of the sharpest juniper. I have moved to working with the softer varieties like Itoigawa instead of procumbens or blue star juniper…and wear light gloves when working on my procumbens. If you ever get into a dusty large juniper interior, you might wear a dust respirator out of precaution. I know the dust can set me off to sneezing and watering eyes.

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I always thought the sharp dead needle tips of juniperus poked the skin and infected the point with bacteria and / or fungus. Itchy, lasted for several days. Usually worse in spring.
I treat with HAND WASHING, alcohol wipes, and anti bacterial and anti fungals. Watch for spreading of infected area. I’ve moved away from these bonsai… or wear the thicker, longer cuff, brand of nitrile gloves sold at auto outlets.
A good friend had a allergy to juniper. Three weeks after exposure, the forarms looked like a bad case of chicken pox… prescription prednisone cream please…
Oh , ya, wear a respirator for sifting bonsai soil. Dust. Silicosis in the lungs…
The things we put up with for Bonsai!

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I use a pair of the thin nitrile gloves and then pull on a pair of the thin “Grip” gloves over them.

The over gloves will wear out after a few days of hard work but the are relatively cheap and you can get a box of the thin nitrile gloves for minimal cash. The two two together give good grip, fine motor control and great protection from skin reactions

Before you start working on the tree rub a quality ladies hand cream into each hand, maybe do it twice. It helps me with Rigida.

Looks like the price of gloves still hasn’t come down. :confused:

@Bonsai_Bentley @Les-in-Tx
I actually take an allergy medication daily already. Doesn’t seem to have any affect on the skin irritation. I haven’t tried a Benadryl yet. Maybe next on the to do list. That and some hydrocortisone cream.
Juniperitis. :sweat_smile: I like that! It sucks because I love the way the junipers and spruces look. I guess I am going to have to keep trying to learn how to work with gloves on. They work for the bigger things but when I am attempting to do the finer stuff I just don’t seem to have the proper dexterity.
I appreciate the advice and I will attempt the double glove trick to see how it improves my dexterity.

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For me it’s contact dermatitis. Not just from junipers though, sometimes tomato leaves. A day later I see redness and itchy skin. Treat like eczema.

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You are allergic. I have a food allergy to pine nuts and quickly found out to all junipers. I don’t work on junipers anymore.


Yep - I have the same issue with juniper - some kind of short term dermatitis - so far I’ve just accepted it as a ‘bonsai hazard’ … not sure there’s much to do about it