Canna – Dermatitis and Skin Rash
Q: A few years ago at a job site, I was treating canna lilies for leaf roller. It was a large group of plants so at times I was in a thicket of cannas. I started itching so badly I wanted to claw my skin off. I did not even finish treating the plants. I had to go to the emergency room where they kept applying duct tape to my skin. After several applications of applying & ripping off the duct tape all itching was gone. They thought maybe there were mites on the plants.
Recently I started itching again, not quite as badly as in the past but badly. Then it dawned on me. Now 10 years later and at a different job site I walk by a group of cannas every couple of days. Today I had one of my employees go look at the cannas. He came back with verification that leaf rolling was taking place.
Can you explain what might be happening? I am paranoid to be even close to a canna lily.
A: Canna leaf roller is a legless “grub” with no hairs, so I can’t think of a way it could exude something that would harm you. How were you “treating” the cannas originally? Could you have had a reaction to a pesticide?
Your dermatitis could possibly be a “one-person only” event caused by unknown factors.
Susan G. reports: I’m experiencing my second extreme reaction to working with this plant. My chest and face are covered in bright red, bumpy rash and it is spreading.
Cindy E. says: My neighbor gave me a whole armload, and I mean an armload of cannas to transplant. I carried them in a huge bundle under my arm to my house, across the street from my neighbor’s. That evening, I broke out in a terrible hive/rash under my arm where the lilies touched my skin. They’re horrible hives that are red, itch like crazy, and burn like a jellyfish sting nonstop. I almost go crazy if I scratch them… have had the hives for 5 days now. They are unbearable! I’ve had cannas before, but can never remember having any reaction like this.