Parsnip rash, also called phytophotodermatitis (PPD), is a skin condition caused by contact with some plants, including parsnip and wild parsnip (or giant hogweed), from which the condition gets its common name.
Parsnips contain compounds which may cause skin irritation in some people, and make the skin very sensitive to sunlight. This can lead to severe burning.
- Skin blistering
- Skin discolouring (dark red, purple or brown)
The rash will usually clear up without treatment if you avoid contact with the plant that caused it. Treatment options include:
- Wash the affected area and cover rash with cool, wet cloth or bandage to reduce swelling.
- Steroid creams can be used sparingly (see your doctor or pharmacist) if the rash is severe.
- Protect the affected area from sunlight with clothing, gloves and footwear.
- Avoid skin contact with plants likely to cause parsnip rash.
- If you come into contact with plants likely to cause parsnip rash, wash the area and cover the skin immediately to prevent contact with sunlight.
- If you need to pull up parsnip, or other plants that may cause problems, wear gloves and a long sleeved shirt.
References used for this topic page
Royal Australian College of General Practitioners: Australian Family Physician
Skin Rash on the upper limbs – Case Studies (2013)
Phyto-Photo-Dermatitis (1949) [PDF 800kb]
Last updated: 4th May, 2020