Possible reaction to cedar

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Forum topic by willie posted 09-16-2015 01:49 PM 812 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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534 posts in 2653 days

09-16-2015 01:49 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I recently made a couple picture frames from some aromatic cedar that has been laying around the shop for a while. I haven’t used much cedar in the past. After a couple days I started getting redness and small blisters between my fingers. The only thing I can think of that I’ve been in contact with lately, that I don’t normally encounter is the cedar. Is it possible that this caused my problem? It’s finally starting to clear up but it was a few uncomfortable days dealing with this. It itched terribly and was a bit painful. I really want to find the cause of this so I don’t have to go through this again!!! Thanks for any input you guys can give me, Willie

-- Every day above ground is a good day!!!

4 replies so far

View Clarkie's profile


466 posts in 2040 days

#1 posted 09-16-2015 01:59 PM

Hey Willie, could very well be the cedar that caused it, only way to tell is to use a little of it again and see if anything starts up. I know that would involve more pain for a few days though. Many years ago a friend of mine gave me what he thought was American Walnut. It was 4 inches thick and 14 inches across, didn’t look like American walnut to me, but I figured he knew his stuff. Well, after days of planning and cutting and sanding…voila…my skin was a translucent purple and yellow. Anywhere that was exposed to the wood turned that color and my hands blew up to four times their normal size. I could have used a rake to scratch everywhere on my body. It took three different doctors and finally a fourth that knew what it was, a severe reaction to butternut. Butternut is in the walnut family and like walnut has a chemical in it that protects it from weeds and vegetation. It took 39 days to get rid of that stuff from my system. A friend of mine finished the planing of the butternut, he wasn’t allergic to it, he was allergic to pine, argh…go figure. So I feel your pain, just be careful to wear a mask and wash after using wood you are not sure of, have fun, make some dust.

View Kazooman's profile


1237 posts in 2151 days

#2 posted 09-16-2015 02:36 PM is a good resource for all sorts if information on various wood species, including potential toxicity. They list aromatic red cedar as a skin and lung irritant with three out of four stars for potency.

If I use a freshly sharpened pencil that is made from cedar I immediately start sneezing.

View markf's profile


28 posts in 1182 days

#3 posted 09-19-2015 05:32 AM

Without even considering actual allergy reactions, cedar dust/particles are an extreme irritant to the airways. Under a microscope they even look dangerous.

View Awlsome's profile


7 posts in 1167 days

#4 posted 10-01-2015 10:43 PM

Okay, I actually joined the forum to weigh in on this. My day job is working as a hospital pharmacist. So, your immune system can react to anything over a certain molecular size – thus it is possible to be allergic to just about anything. If you only have hives and itching then it isnt a dangerous allergy. Any allergic reaction that includes change in blood pressure or swelling of mucous membranes (ie; your airway) is potentially life threatening. Those two reactions are type 1 hypersensitivity and yours sounds like type 4 hypersensitivity – delayed reaction and acts kinda like poison ivy. So my advise is this – if you had no airway swelling and no change in blood pressure it may be worth testing if that was what you reacted to. By touching a bit to a piece of skin, maybe on the forearm you will know if you can use cedar in the future or not. Just have some benadryl and ivarest on hand in case you need it.

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