The Scourge of the Spurge Family—An Imitator of Rhus Dermatitis

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Abstract

The Euphorbiaceae family (commonly known as “spurge”) is a large, diverse, and widely distributed family of plants that encompass around 300 genera and more than 8000 species. Their attractiveness and hearty nature have made them popular for both indoor ornamentation and outdoor landscaping. Despite their ubiquity, the potential to cause irritant contact dermatitis (ICD) is often overlooked in favor of more notorious causes of phytodermatitis, namely, Toxicodendron species and nettles. We examined case reports spanning 40 years and discovered that spurge-induced ICD tends to befall children and middle-aged adults who unwittingly encounter the plant through play or horticulture, respectively. Clinical presentation is pleomorphic. Erythema, edema, burning, vesicles, and pruritus of acute onset and rapid resolution are frequently observed. We present a classic case of ICD in a 12-year-old girl after exposure to Euphorbia myrsinites and review the literature on phytodermatitis caused by members of the Euphorbiaceae family.

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