Allergic Reaction to Red Oak Sawdust in my 2 Year Old Daughter

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Culprit

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I've seen this discussed here before, but didn't want to hijack other threads. I did, however, want to post this for general awareness in case another forum member is searching for data points on this topic.

My 22 month old daughter woke up last Wednesday with an allergic reaction rash/welts over much of her body - especially her stomach, legs, and armpits. No fever, and no respiratory impacts.

After my wife and I brainstormed what foods and such she was exposed to the previous day, the only new thing we could come up with was red oak sawdust. I was planing some rough-cut oak to size in the garage while the kids played in the driveway. When I was done, dripping in sweat and covered in sawdust, I went out to stand in the drive and talk with my neighbor for a while. My 22 month old is afraid of the neighbor's German Shepherd and asked me to pick her up and hold her. I held her on my hip in the crook of my arm facing me. Often when I hold her like this, her shirt rides up and her belly rubs against my shirt. I pick her up under her arms, and the insides of her legs wrap around my waist. Those are the exact areas where the rash/welts were the worst and most concentrated. They continued to get worse over the course of the next 3 days until it covered her whole body. But at the same time, the first areas that were affected were getting better and clearing up as new areas became affected. Really weird - like a wave, like ripples spreading from the point of origin. We changed her sheets, washed her lovey blankets, and parked the minivan in the drive and took her out the sliding doors on the back deck to get in the car so she hasn't been in the garage since. The pediatrician put her on an oral steroid and Benadryl. She has an appointment with the allergist later this week. The poor girl has been miserable. She has scratches where she was itching and scratching so bad. We're thankful that it is over, and hoping for a concrete answer from the allergist appointment this week so this can be avoided in the future.

I was aware of some people having respiratory irritation to breathing sawdust from (usually) exotic hardwoods, but I have never heard of people having a contact dermatitis reaction to coming in contact with the sawdust on their skin. After poking around on the web, it seems that this type of skin reaction to oak is documented, but not very common. I posted this on another forum that I read that is targeted towards woodworking in general, not pen turning specifically, and got several responses from people who have experienced the same thing.

Are any of you allergic to certain species of sawdust coming in contact with your skin? Have any of you seen an allergist for it, and what did the doctor say? We have an appointment for our daughter later this week, but I'm curious to learn what I can in the meantime.

It is possible that this is just a random case of hives and not related to the sawdust exposure, but based on the rash pattern the first morning she woke up with it, I really doubt it. The rash matched exactly the areas of my daughter's skin that were in contact with my sawdust covered shirt, hands, and arms.


Semper Fidelis,
Joshua
 
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randyrls

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Joshua; yes indeed, there are many woods that can cause skin rashes. Most common are the Rosewood family including Cocobolo, all the rosewoods, and many others.

I have a mild sensitivity to Cocobolo and use dust collection when working on that wood with a mask.

CA fumes can cause breathing difficulties.

The effect gets worse with repeated exposure. Do an internet search for skin rashes and wood health problems. There are many sources that detail wood sensitivities, the individual effet can be different from person to person.

I hope your little girl is feeling better.
 
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Haynie

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Sounds like she got the reaction from touching your shirt. If it was not the dust was it a clean shirt when you put it on? Both our boys had allergic reactions to perfume residue touching their skin. The oldest from a diaper. The company switched their perfume supplier. One diaper package no problem, the next was a diaper shaped breakout that got into his blood stream like your daughter. Took a while to get rid of with benedryl and steroids. The youngest got his reaction when my wife tried a new dryer sheet and I was holding him after an emergency shower (brought on by explosive poo)

Lots of things can attack baby skin. Good luck.
 

Jim Burr

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Unfortunately, any wood can cause an allergy at any time. I never had an issue until I was sweeping the shop covered with walnut shavings and sawdust. I swelled up like a watermelon!
You may want to think about some Benadryl, Calamine lotion or another mild lotion with a low dose hydrocortisone ingredient. Kids have an under developed immune system for years! Some studies say 12 years is about right...others say 6. You're headed in the right direction...good luck!
 

Smitty37

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There are several woods that if they get under my watch when turning will cause me to breakout in a localized rash. There are also several that if I dry sand will cause a bit of a lung problem when I don't remember to use my respirator.
 

Fred

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Joshua ... ask your doctor to explain the complications that arise for someone being allergic and then becoming sensitized. The effects are quite often devastating for a lifetime when one becomes sensitized.

My advice for what it is worth is that in the meantime keep your daughter away from the raw wood and all the dust that is associated with your current products.
 

Bowl Slinger

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I have allergic reactions to red oak as well. I will get blister like sores in and around the outside of my nostrils. I went to the dr years ago any they said that it was a form of shingles and gave me some ointment. It took a couple of years to figure out that every time I work with oak the blisters come back but only on my nose. I do not have any type of reaction with any other type of wood.
 
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