Are poinsettia plants poisonous?

Answers from Jay L. Hoecker, M.D.

Poinsettia plants are less toxic than once believed.

In most cases, poinsettia exposure causes only discomfort, including:

  • A mild, itchy rash. Skin contact with the sap of a poinsettia plant can cause a rash. If this happens, wash the affected area with soap and water. Apply a cool compress to ease itching.
  • A mild stomachache, vomiting or diarrhea. This can happen after eating part of a poinsettia plant. Severe signs and symptoms are unlikely. If you find a child eating a poinsettia plant, clear and rinse his or her mouth.
  • Eye irritation. If the sap of a poinsettia plant comes in contact with the eyes, they can become red and irritated. If this happens, flush the eyes with water.
  • Allergic reaction. Some people are more sensitive to poinsettia plants than are others. Reactions to poinsettia plants are more common among people who have latex allergies, since latex and poinsettia plants share several proteins. In case of a severe reaction, seek prompt medical attention.
Feb. 19, 2014 See more Expert Answers