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Fig tree sap or thorns can
cause serious skin rash

THE fig plant, family Moracaea, is an evergreen shrub or tree with drooping branches. The leaves alternate on the branches and are simple, long-tipped and glossy. The flowers and fruits are enclosed in a fleshy sac that turns from green to orange-red to red and then purplish black.

Found mostly as houseplants or as part of interiorscapes, these plants can cause dermatitis and allergic reactions in both dogs and people. The sap from all parts of the plant, the juice and the thorns carry the poison.

Symptoms can be itching eyes, cough and wheezing following frequent contact. Single exposure causes skin irritation, itching, redness and stinging following contact and exposure to sunlight. The irritation usually lasts only a few minutes but can be more severe with multiple exposures. The plants contain furocoumarins, psoralens and ficin.

Wash the affected area of skin with soap and water as soon as possible after contact. The rashes can be very serious and painful in some cases.

In the fiddle-leaf fig (Ficus lyrata) the stem, fruit and sap cause the skin irritation, while in the weeping fig (Ficus moraceae) contact dermatitis breaks out in sensitive dogs or people.

For a list of some poisonous plants (not all) go to

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