Also known as the Poaceae, the Gramineae comprises perhaps 10,000 species in about 620 genera. Many authors incorrectly refer to this family as the Graminae. Grasses are found growing in virtually all regions where plants can survive.
Most of the food grains are derived from this family. These include the following:
The name corn is used for various cereal grains - Zea in the USA; Triticum in England; Avena in Scotland.
[Summary yet to be added]
Irritant and allergic contact dermatitis and contact urticaria
Microtrauma, irritant dermatitis, and also immediate and delayed hypersensitivity (Type I and Type IV) reactions can result from exposure to plants of this family. A distinction between these effects cannot readily be made.
A papular urticarial type of dermatitis can result from contact sensitivity to straw and cereal chaff (Michelson 1921). Moor-millet used for making brooms (Fiocco 1936), grass (Robinson 1937), and maize (Goldshtein & Speransky 1962) have been reported to cause contact dermatitis. Poultry feed workers developed dermatitis of the exposed skin surface and of the intertriginous areas from the dust of Hordeum (barley) and of Avena (oats) (Weekly Bulletin 1942). Contact with hay produced urticaria and rhinitis (Bonnevie 1935).
Urticaria (Marcussen 1935) and eczema (Marcussen 1937) resulted from contact with straw. Positive patch test reactions were observed, in one case to rye (Secale), wheat (Triticum), barley (Hordeum), oats (Avena), cock's foot (Dactylis glomerata) and Timothy grass (Phleum) (Marcussen 1937).
A cattle fodder worker who had contact-type dermatitis showed positive patch test reactions to brans, to maize (Zea mays), barley (Hordeum), and to Beta) (Malten 1970); an intracutaneous test to grass pollen produced a negative result. Pesticides and additives used for the plant products can cause dermatitis.
Parasites of grain were suspected as a cause of skin irritation from grain dust by Ramazzini (1713). "Straw-itch", "grain-itch", and itching from contact with cereals can be caused by Pyemotes ventricosus (Pediculoides). Flour can be infested with the mites Tyroglyphus farinae, T. siro, T. longior, or Glyciphagus domesticus which are causes of "baker's itch" (van Thiel 1953).
Dermatitis of the exposed skin surfaces due to tyroglyphoid mites in straw can be indistinguishable from contact dermatitis, but Pediculoides infestation from grain produces a clinical picture more suggestive of bites (Saunders 1944) affecting the covered parts of the body (Fine & Scott 1965). The mite Pyemotes ventricosus is parasitic on the larvae of many insects. Such insects, accompanied by their mite, can infest straw, grain, hay, brome grass seed (Bromus, termite infested wood (Fine & Scott 1965), cereals and cotton (Gossypium) (van Thiel 1953). Outbreaks of mite bites followed fumigation of houses for termites; termite bodies are a ready source of food for newly arriving mites (Arnold & Haramoto 1962).
"Harvester's itch" can be caused by a mite Leptus autumnalis (Von-Mallinckrodt-Haupt 1930, Oppenheim 1942). "Grass itch" can be caused by Trombicula deliensis and by Acomatacarus australiense (Belisario 1948).
Packing straw (Legge 1921, Fidanza 1936) and straw bags known as paliasses (O'Donnell 1949) can be infested with mites. Dermatitis in Sorghum cutters was probably caused by mites (Hoffer 1918). A zoological classification of these dermatologically-important animal parasites was provided by Rook (1972).
Many grasses can traumatise the skin by their prickly spikes, or by laceration (Behl et al. 1966).
Conjunctival reactions can be caused by vegetable matter such as a piece of chaff, straw, or a grain of corn, barley, flax-seed, or cotton in the eye (Duke-Elder & MacFaul 1972a).
Abscesses in the soft palate and lung have been caused by grass seeds (Cleland 1931).
An early report concerning Arundo is that of Sarra (1890).
Smuts and rusts on cereal can produce contact sensitivity in wheat harvesters (Prisco 1952) and respiratory allergy in grain elevator and flour mill workers (Wittich & Stakman 1936-37).
Fungi of Saccharum can produce dermatitis and fungi of Arundo can produce dermatitis and respiratory disease.
Claviceps infection of grain, particularly rye, can cause ergotism if the ergots are inadvertently ingested.
Grain dust (Michelson 1921) and straw dust (Szegö et al. 1962) can cause mechanical irritation of the skin. Dirt, extraneous vegetable matter of protein nature, and prior irritation of the skin were also implicated (Queries & Minor Notes 1928). The irritating properties of barley and other cereal dusts are due to sharp trichomes from the awns. Millets (e.g. Pennisetum), rice (Oryza), and bamboo (Bambusa) have similar spicules which can produce urticarial papules in workers handling crops or litter straw (Faninger 1960, 1961). Dermatitis has been reported in Europe and America from dehusking rice, millets, and barley (Schwartz et al. 1957, Woods 1962), but Behl et al. (1962) in India saw few cases where dermatitis could be definitely attributed to working with these grains.
A variety of weeds can occur as satellite plants of food crops (King 1966).
Composite species, especially Ambrosia (ragweed) can cause dermatitis in workers exposed to graminaceous plants. Nine workers in the flour and cattle feed industries had dermatitis of the exposed skin surfaces from Ambrosia and other Compositae species which contaminated grain and grain dust. The dermatitis occurred at all times of the year, but was most common and severe in hot weather when perspiration caused dust particles to adhere to the skin (Jordan et al. 1942). Oats and hay contaminated by ragweed can cause ragweed dermatitis or can be responsible for persistence into the winter of previously seasonal dermatitis originally caused by Ambrosia (ragweed) itself (Case Presenation 1943). Threshing of cereal plants, silo-filling, and grinding of oats can cause dermatitis actually due to Ambrosia and other weeds (Epstein 1961).
Allergic contact dermatitis from Timothy grass (Phleum), pasture sage (Artemisia), and plantago (Plantago), with positive patch tests to the oils of the pollens was reported by Michelson (1936). Positive patch test reactions to the pollen of Zea, of some other grasses, and of Ambrosia (ragweed) in a farmer's daughter was reported by Curtis (1960). In a screening study, none of 533 persons patch tested to a grass-pollen oleoresin, 1% in vaseline, showed positive reactions (Fregert & Hjorth 1969). In Type I hypersensitivity from pollen, in vitro Type IV reactions have been described (Maini et al. 1971). Combined sensitivity has been described (see Phleum).
The wind-blown pollen of a number of species may be responsible for hayfever (pollinosis). The following species are listed by Wodehouse (1971):
Hjorth & Wilkinson (1968) found that dermatitis from pesticides is regarded as rare. Impurities cause more trouble than than the active pesticides; thus, contaminants of DDT, malathion, and lindane were responsible for contact dermatitis. Patch testing with pesticides diluted to a non-irritant concentration can produce false negative results. Selection of an appropriate concentration requires caution since systemic toxicity from absorption can occur. The true incidence of sensitivity will not be known until pure substances are available in proper vehicles and concentrations for patch testing.
The following chemicals have been reported to cause dermatitis: thiurams - zineb, maneb; DDT; γ-HCH (lindane); malathion; parathion; captan (Orthocide) (Hjorth & Wilkinson 1968). Germisan, a mordant containing mercury can produce bullous dermatitis and systemic toxicity (Szegö 1963). Insecticides (Janson 1951) and plant protective chemicals (Szegö 1965) caused dermatitis.
Animal feed additives
An extensive list of animal feed additives was provided by Burrows (1975) who reported contact dermatitis from ethoxyquin. Furazolidone (Scharfenberg 1967), cobalt (Bruecker & Hofs 1966), calcium cyanamide (Downing 1935), tylosin (an antibiotic) (Nelder 1972), fertilisers and agricultural chemicals (Tamas 1962), Laborie & Laborie 1965) and quinoxaline dioxide (Dawson & Scott 1972) have been reported to cause dermatitis.
Ingestion of gluten derived from cereals can cause eczema associated with malabsorption (Friedman & Hare 1965).
Starch is derived from Triticum (wheat) and other plant sources. Starch (Morris 1954) and a mixture of starches and dextrins (Forstall 1926, Downing 1935) were reported to cause dermatitis. Starch used as a sizing for cloth was incriminated in weaver's asthma (Murray et al. 1957). Wheat and rice starches are considered to be known allergens, and have been removed from certain cosmetics (Anon 1973). Starch used for surgical gloves can provoke granulomatous peritonitis (Coder & Olander 1972, Ignatius & Hartman 1972). Alcalase and amylase protease, used as enzyme detergents, produced dermatitis (Bernstein 1972).
Two cases of dermatitis were reported from dextrin in glue on stamps and labels (Walters & Stern 1941).
Plant material, notably glycopeptides was considered to be a significant material in atopic allergens of house dust (Morris et al. 1965, Berrens et al. 1965).
Flour is derived from many plants, especially in the East from rice (Oryza sativa) and in the West from wheat (Triticum).
Baker's eczema was described by Bateman (1817). Early reports (Tankard 1923, DeJong 1923, Parsons 1924, White 1925, Walker 1925, Mummery 1925, Schmitt 1927, Starobinski 1927, Stern 1927, Vonno 1930, Hansman 1931, Minor Notes 1931, Rothmann 1931, Wise 1931) were summarised by Zitzke (1932), Downing & Welch 1932, and by Prosser White (1934). Bakers are exposed to low grade mechanical irritation from flour, and particularly dough. Sources of dermatitis were considered to be the flour itself, calcium sulfate in confectioner's flour, potassium bicarbonate, salt, sugar, bran, acarids, wetness, sensitisation to wheat protein, yeast, other fungi, and the flour improvers potassium and ammonium persulfate. DeJong (1923) found that dermatitis was more common in bakers than in flour mill workers although the latter were more exposed to flour dust.
Tankard (1923) appears to have been the first to report the effects of potassium persulfate, which has subsequently been found to be the major cause of baker's eczema. Reports are scanty from France where the improvers have been little used, and legislative banning of persulfates has been followed by a reduction in the number of cases in some other countries (Young 1974). Increase of mechanical rather than hand mixing of the dough has also led to a decline in the number of cases (Kilpinen 1947).
Atopic respiratory symptoms from inhalation of flour (baker's asthma) were described by Baagöe (1933) and by Salen & Juhlin-Dannfelt (1935).
Some bakers show positive skin tests for Type I hypersensitivity to flour extracts (Van Nonno et al. 1934, Kilpinen 1947, Subiza 1951, Grianti & Bartalini 1953). Ammonium persulfate acts as a histamine liberator in some persons (Molesworth 1930, Calnan & Schuster 1963). According to van Dishoeck & Roux (1940), dermatitis from flour results from inhalation and is more common in atopic persons who are sensitive to grass pollen. Contact urticaria was observed by Urbach & Wiethe (1931).
Flour and starch derived from various plants have been incriminated in weaver's asthma (Murray et al. 1957).
Wüthrich (1970) found that intracutaneous tests with flour extracts were not only specific for flour as such but also for each kind of flour.
Some contaminants of flour in mill dust were considered to be allergenic, for instance Penicillium, Aspergillus, rusts, smuts, mites (Glyciphagus and Tyroglyphus), and some insects (Jimenez-Diaz et al. 1947).
Benzoic acid (6% in petrolatum) produced a positive patch test reaction in a baker who had dermatitis (Baird 1945).
Benzoyl peroxide was found by Grosfeld (1951) to be a significant sensitiser for bakers. A material used to raise bread, namely lockerine or diafarine, caused dermatitis in a baker (Chanial & Joseph 1965).
The use of chemicals which are added to flour varies from country to country. For Holland, Young (1974) recommended the following for screening patch testing: ammonium persulfate (1% aq.), benzoyl peroxide (1% petr.), potassium bromate (5% aq.), cinnamon oil (0.5% petr.), limonene (5% olive oil), balsam of Peru (25% petr.), para-amino azobenzene (0.25% petr.). Limonene was used as a component of Citrus. Aimed patch testing should include the flour and other individual items used by the patient. Flour extracts should be used for Type I hypersensitivity tests. Flour free of improvers such as persulfates should be used for such tests. Heyl & Reinert-Dilthey (1968) and Young (1964, 1974) consider that inhaled flour can act as an atopen and so produce atopic dermatitis and dishydrotic eczema.
Flour accumulating in the conjunctival sac of bakers in the humid atmospheres of flour-mills can produce a chronic occupational keratoconjunctivitis (Duke-Elder & MacFaul 1972b).
Baker's psoriasis is a name for palmar keratoderma of bakers (Wüthrich 1970). Historical aspects of baker's eczema were discussed by Fisher (1919).
Dermatitis from contact with flour and recurrence of dermatitis following ingestion of flour was reported by Templeton (1945).
Onychia and paronychia
Blackish discolouration of the finger nails probably of bacterial origin was observed in confectioners (Clermont-Ferrand 1950). Infection by yeasts and fungi of flour in bakers was postulated by Mummery (1925) and by Starobinski (1927).
Stigma of bakers
Ramazzini (1713) observed that bakers had thickened hands.
Grocer's itch and sugar-itch
Sugar (sucrose) is derived commercially from both sugar cane (Saccharum) and beet (Beta, fam. Chenopodiaceae). Refined and double-refined white sugar was more likely to be one of the causes of grocer's itch than brown sugar. Sugars often contained an abundance of mites (White 1887). The literature was reviewed by Prosser White (1934). Occupational onychia, paronychia and skin ulceration following maceration of the hands by syrups used to make candied fruits has been reported in confectioners (Albertin 1889). Diacetyl-2,3-butanedione used as a flavouring was found to be the agent for contact dermatitis in 7 of 8 confectionery workers (Hegyi 1971).
Carcinoma of the skin of the thumb of a baker resulted from friction by hot metal (O'Donovan 1922).
Reports of phytophotodermatitis from grasses and reeds (Klaber 1942) lacks substantiation. Psoralens are not known from members of the Gramineae.
[Information available but not yet included in database]
This species has stinging hairs but many cases of supposed "grass dermatitis" result from chigger bites (Simons 1952).
[Information available but not yet included in database]
Spoiled hay or improperly prepared silage, if it contains a large proportion of this species, can cause dicoumarol toxicosis (or bleeding disease) in animals, which may be fatal. Animals so affected show subcutaneous haemorrhages and bleeding from multiple orifices (Pritchard et al. 1983, Bartol et al. 2000, Runciman et al. 2002, Dwyer et al. 2003). Cranwell (1983) observed that sheep seemed not to be affected. See also Melilotus alba Medikus, fam. Leguminosae.
The awns of many species of Aristida can produce mechanical injury to the skin of sheep and man (Cleland 1914, Aplin 1976). Mabberley (1987) notes that the mature inflorescence of A. contorta F. Muell. can become tangled in the wool of sheep, which may hence be immobilized.
The awns of this species can cause mechanical injury to the skin (Oakes & Butcher 1962).
The mature fruit of this grass readily becomes entangled in the wool of sheep and the sharp callus can irritate and even penetrate the skin. A "traumatic purulent dermatitis" may result in very young lambs, the condition occurring in the winter only (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962).
The awns of this species can cause mechanical injury to the skin (Muenscher 1951).
The awns of this species can cause mechanical injury to the skin (Muenscher 1951).
The awns of this species can cause mechanical injury to the skin (Muenscher 1951).
The stems of the plants are used as lathes and for fishing rods. "Mal des cannes de Provence" was first described by Chaptal in 1750. Stacked reeds became covered with a white powdery fungus that can produce dermatitis, conjunctivitis, and respiratory symptoms in workmen who strip the canes. White (1928) reviewed the extensive French literature.
Wetting the canes to prevent dissemination of the fungus provides relief. The fungus is an Ustilago species according to Timpano (1921); Sporotrichum dermatodes according to Prosser White (1934); or an Alternaria species according to Gate et al. (1952).
Several species may be described as reeds, including members of the genera Arundo and Phragmites. Reed grass is a common name for Calmagrostis (Kelsey & Dayton 1942). Unspecified reeds have been reported to cause cheilitis and dermatitis (Fellner 1930, Lerner 1941, Jansen 1973). A report of phytophotodermatitis from reeds (Siemens 1927) lacks substantiation. Dermatitis from reed matting derived from bulrushes (?Scirpus) was probably due to the reed bug (Chilacis) (Szegö & Balogh 1965).
Dermatitis attributed to this species (Schiff 1951, Bencel 1951) is said to be due to a varnish applied to the canes or to insects (Simons 1952).
The awns can cause mechanical injury (Muenscher 1951); the pointed callus of the fruits can injure the mouths of cattle (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962).
The seeds have been found lodged in the conjunctival sac, nasal cavity, and external auditory meatus of humans; in the eye, they may set up inflammatory changes that can lead to blindness (MacPherson 1932, Duke-Elder & MacFaul 1972a).
Excessive consumption of the grain as groats or oatmeal has been thought to cause skin eruptions in man (Newsom et al. 1932); dermatitis from oats in animals has been described (Suppel & Brunside 1954). "Oat epithelioma" of the tongue of rats may be due to mechanical irritation (Stahr 1921).
A farmer developed severe dermatitis after handling sheaves of oats, this seemingly being caused by milfoil (Achillea millefolium L.) in the sheaves (Low 1924). Ragweed-contaminated oats (Ambrosia spp.) have been reported by Epstein (1961) as a cause of contact dermatitis.
As is suggested by its common names, this bamboo has thorny stems which are 20-40 m tall, with numerous branches bearing in lower parts of stems dense half whorls of stiff, naked, horizontal branches armed with 2-3 stout spines capable of inflicting mechanical injury. It makes an impenetrable fence.
Some authorities consider there to be two distinct species of spiny bamboo, namely Bambusa bambos and Bambusa blumeana. In Chinese, both are known as Ci Zhu. Referring to B. spinosa in a text on Chinese Materia Medica, Stuart (1911) notes that the shoots when eaten are thought to cause the hair to fall out.
The term "bamboo" is applied loosely to a number of different plants is several genera, including:
Therefore, it may not be obvious to which species the unqualified term "bamboo" applies.
Schiff (1951) investigated dermatitis in a factory where bamboo tennis rackets were made. Exposed skin surfaces were affected and hyperpigmentation ensued. The workers were sanding bamboo stems from which the bark and hairs had been removed. Patch tests with bamboo shavings produced positive reactions; control tests were not recorded.
Dermatitis from bamboo may be produced not by the bamboo, but by saprophytic fungi or varnish applied to the surface (Simons 1952). An affliction in the Orient, caused by bites of insects living between the canes of bamboo chairs and affecting some persons who sit on the chairs, has also been described.
Young, rapidly developing poles should not be handled, or if some particular reason makes this necessary, the hands should be kept away from the eyes. The brown colouring of the papery collars is due to minute brown bristles, which are easily detached, penetrating the flesh and causing considerable itching and discomfort (Allen 1943). Such bristles from bamboo shoots are also irritant to the gastrointestinal tract and have been used for criminal poisoning (Burkill 1935).
The juice is irritant to the skin (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962).
The plants can cause mechanical injury to the skin (Behl et al. 1966). Brome grass seed can be infested with the biting mite Pyemotes ventricosus (Fine & Scott 1965). A smut which affects the plants is said to produce contact urticaria.
The barbed fruits work into the eyes, nostrils, and mouths of stock, causing serious injury.
Aplin (1976) includes this species in a list of grasses that can cause mechanical injury through their sharp-pointed seed.
The awns can produce mechanical injury to the skin (Muenscher 1951).
The burs surrounding the seed of some species bear tenacious spines which can attach themselves to animals (Howes 1974, Aplin 1976).
According to Bhandari (1974), the spiny burs of this species can cause mechanical injury to the skin.
Oakes & Butcher (1962) note that the spiny burs of this species can cause mechanical injury to the skin.
The inflorescence forms spiny burs covered with extremely sharp spines 2-6mm long with backward-pointing barbs that can anchor into skin (Anon 2003).
Muenscher (1951), referring to C. pauciflorus, notes that the spiny burs of this species can cause mechanical injury to the skin. Some authorities consider the names Cenchrus spinifex and Cenchrus longispinus to refer to the same species.
The spikelets surrounding the fruits become hard and prickly, acting as a means of distribution by animals; their entanglement in wool can be injurious to sheep.
Ingestion of this plant is said to produce photosensitisation in animals (Hurst 1942). Gardner & Bennetts (1956) include this species in a list of plants known or suspected of causing dermatitis.
The plant yields a volatile oil - oil of vetiver - which is used in perfumes, cologne, and toilet water. It can produce dermatitis in hypersensitive individuals (Greenberg & Lester 1954). Vetiver acetate of a certain grade has sensitising properties (Opdyke 1974, p. 1011).
The edges of the leaves of the plant can cause cuts in humans (Aplin 1976).
About 60 species are known, which are native to tropical and subtropical regions. Several yield aromatic essential oils used in soaps and perfumery.
These species, which grow in southern India and Sri Lanka, yield lemongrass oil which has rubefacient properties (Behl et al. 1966). Vesicular dermatitis of the face, forearms and ankles appeared in eight workers who were exposed to a ship's cargo of lemongrass oil (Mendelsohn 1944). Undiluted lemongrass oil is irritant by patch test; sensitisation to the oil can probably occur (Mendelsohn 1946).
Lemongrass oil contains between 72% and 81% citral (Budavari 1996). Citral is considered to be a sensitiser in perfumery (Greenberg & Lester 1954).
Lemongrass oil may be used to adulterate lemon oil (Citrus x limon Burm. f., fam. Rutaceae).
Stuart (1911) noted that in Chinese traditional medicine, a fragrant grass known as Mao Hsiang to which he applied the botanical name Andropogon schoenanthus is used for scenting baths and is considered to have a beneficial influence in curing eruptions of the skin. He may have been referring to another lemongrass known as Xiang Mao or Herba Cymbopogon Citratus derived from Cymbopogon citratus Stapf.
This species yields Ceylon citronella oil (Furia & Bellanca 1971). Follicular contact dermatitis from citronella oil was observed by Lane (1922). In two cases of contact dermatitis from the oil, positive patch test reactions were observed to citronellal; weaker positive reactions were observed to citronellol, hydroxycitronellol, citral, and geranyl acetate, and in one of the two cases to geraniol (Keil 1944, 1947).
Contact sensitivity to oil of citronella resulted from two isomers of citronellol and geraniol of the oil. Cross-sensitivity was observed with palmarosa oil from Cymbopogon martini and to some other chemicals (Paschoud 1963).
This Indian plant yields palmarosa oil, which is also known as East Indian geranium oil (Furia & Bellanca 1971). The oil can produce dermatitis in hypersensitive individuals (Greenberg & Lester 1954).
This species yields Java citronella oil (Furia & Bellanca 1971). Reports of dermatitis ascribed to undefined "citronella oil" may refer to the oil from this species.
In an investigation of "weed dermatitis", Shelmire (1939) observed positive patch test reactions to an extract of this plant in 7 of 50 patients tested. In New Delhi, India, Singh et al. (1978) carried out patch testing using the leaves crushed in a small quantity of normal saline and observed positive reactions in 9 of 69 contact dermatitis patients.
Minute brown bristles on the "collars" at the joints of the poles are irritant to the skin and eyes (Allen 1943).
Contact dermatitis from crab grass was reported by Underwood & Gaul (1948). Of 20 patients, 20 were children. The plant produced positive patch test reactions only at certain stages of its growth. Control tests were not recorded.
In an investigation of "weed dermatitis", Shelmire (1939) observed positive patch test reactions to an extract of Syntherisma sanguinalis in 5 of 50 patients tested.
The plant can cause mechanical injury (Behl et al. 1966).
A 1+ patch test reaction to "quack grass oil" in a single patient with multiple allergies was reported by Lovell et al. (1955).
The juice is irritant to the skin (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962). Tumble grass was said to cause contact dermatitis by Underwood & Gaul (1948). They observed strongly positive patch test reactions in three cases but controls were not recorded.
The rough sharp edges of the leaves can cause mechanical injury (Behl et al. 1966).
Early explorers of Australia noted that the pointed leaf spines can break off under the skin (Cleland 1925). Cleland (1946) quoted a description of a 'spinifex' grass growing on Bernier Island as an extraordinary plant that is composed of an unnumerable quantity of leaves … so thorny that it is impossible to touch any of these thickets without being immediately pierced with a number of small darts, which remain in the flesh and cause a considerable degree of pain. However, he believed that this description referred to a porcupine grass belonging to the genus Triodia rather than to a species of Spinifex L. According to Mabberley (1997), species of Plectrachne Henard are also referred to as spinifex grasses.
This species has irritant bristles on the "collars" at the joints of the canes; the lower slender shoots are armed with short sharp spines (Allen 1943).
The sharp callus of the fruits can puncture the skin, mouth, and gut of animals (Burkill 1935, Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962, Aplin 1976).
Aplin (1976) includes this species in a list of grasses that can cause injury through their sharp-pointed seed.
The awns of barley can produce microtrauma and irritation of the skin (Thompson 1925). "Barley itch" in dock workers was initially attributed to cowhage (Mucuna pruriens) contamination of the barley but was subsequently found to have been caused by an acarine mite Sphaerogyna cerealella, a parasite on moth larvae in the barley (Prosser White 1934). A mini- epidemic caused by this mite (identified as Sphaerogyna ventricosa) in barley-sifters was described by Pascal (1900). "Maltster's itch" was attributed to malt dust (Spillman 1924). Fermented barley caused generalised dermatitis in seven members of a family (Marinoso 1947). Urbach & Steiner (1927) reported contact sensitivity to barley dust.
Barley grains can cause conjunctival reactions (Duke-Elder & MacFaul 1972a). Some other effects attributed to barley will be found in the introduction to this family.
This species can produce mechanical injury (Behl et al. 1966).
This species was reported to cause occupational dermatitis (Benini et al. 1970).
About 15 species are found in tropical and warm temperate regions.
North American species are liable to cut the hands (Howes 1974). Leersia oryzoides Sw. (syn. Phalaris oryzoides L.), a European species, also has this property.
Facial eczema occurring in animals that have ingested the plant may result from photosensitivity (Hurst 1942).
This fodder grass has stinging hairs. However, many cases of "grass dermatitis" are caused by chigger bites (Simons 1952). According to Wimmer (1926), the spiky seed heads of an unnamed Melinis species may be a cause of mechanical injury.
The leaf is irritant to the skin (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962).
This grass produces distinctive sharp seeds both in drooping flower heads and also hidden at the nodes inside the leaf sheaths. These seeds can damage pelts, blind livestock, and can penetrate the skin and move through to the underlying muscle and cause abscesses, thus downgrading carcasses (Bull & Burrill 2002).
The plant is cultivated in shallow water till nearly ripe when the water is drained off. The stagnant water contains putrescent matter, uprooted weeds, and the remains of fish and molluscs. Maceration of the feet and hands, trauma and infection can produce skin disease in rice-field workers (Schwartz et al. 1957, Prosser White 1934). Water plants such as Najus, which have toothed leaves, can cause mechanical injury to the legs. A nonspecific papulo-pustular eruption can affect the immersed skin (Gianotti & Luvoni 1958, Pardo-Castello 1962). A major cause of disability is cercarial dermatitis which has been reported from many countries (Gianotti & Luvoni 1958, Rácz & Lengyel 1966, Bearup & Langsford 1966, Yang et al. 1965, Kaijima 1958, Landman et al. 1961, Pardo-Castello 1962, Malheiro 1960).
Mechanical irritation by rice dust, with allergy to rice protein, were noted by Nasution et al. (1973). Workers who dehusk rice by rubbing it between their hands develop a characteristic type of callosity (Diniz 1954).
Szegö (1965) observed positive patch test reactions to the leaf of the rice plant in some agricultural workers. Patch tests carried out using the leaves crushed in a small quantity of normal saline elicited no positive reactions in 7 contact dermatitis patients tested in New Delhi, India (Singh et al. 1978).
Rice starch is considered to be a known allergen and has been removed from certain cosmetics (Anon 1973).
When fed to calves, rice bran caused an eczematous eruption of the extremities and round about the mouth and eyes (Steyn 1934).
The brown hairs on the leaf-sheaths are an irritant poison (Burkill 1935).
Rimington & Quin (1937) documented an outbreak of photosensitisation accompanied by icterus in sheep that had grazed a pasture in which fresh "sweet grass" had started to grow following the cutting of an oat crop. Two species of grass were identified, one being Panicum coloratum. They incriminated both species without acknowledging the possibility that perhaps only one of these two species was responsible. Muchiri et al. (1980) subsequently demonstrated photosensitisation in sheep feeding on kleingrass pasture. Icterus and subcutaneous oedema were observed. Angora goats were also susceptible, but cattle remained unaffected.
Some authorities consider Panicum coloratum L. to be a synonym of Panicum virgatum L.
In certain stages of growth, the plant is said to be photosensitising for guinea pigs and sheep (Hurst 1942).
Rimington & Quin (1937) documented an outbreak of photosensitisation accompanied by icterus in sheep that had grazed a pasture in which fresh "sweet grass" had started to grow following the cutting of an oat crop. Two species of grass were identified in the pasture: Panicum laevifolium and Panicum coloratum. They incriminated both species without acknowledging the possibility that perhaps only one of these two species was responsible. See also Panicum coloratum.
This water-grass causes dermatitis in Egypt, where it is named sett or sadd dermatitis (Simons 1952).
Referring to Pennisetum typhoides, Singh et al. (1978) in New Delhi, India carried out patch testing using the leaves crushed in a small quantity of normal saline and observed positive reactions in 3 of 42 contact dermatitis patients.
The plant possesses sharp edged leaves capable of causing mechanical injury (Williamson 1955).
Aplin (1976) includes this species in a list of grasses that can cause injury through their sharp-pointed seed.
Dermatitis from Timothy grass, with a positive patch test reaction to the pollen was reported by Ramirez & Eller (1930).
Persons handling this grass can develop maculo-papular dermatitis especially in August and September (Schwartz et al. 1957). Mitchell & Mitchell (1945) obtained positive patch test reactions with the albumin fraction but not with the lipid fraction of Timothy grass pollen in a patient with seasonal dermatitis.
Pollen extracts of Timothy grass and of cocksfoot grass (Dactylis glomerata L.) produced immediate hypersensitivity skin reactions in patients with allergic rhinitis and also delayed reactions in 4 from 6 patients following intradermal injection. The pollen extracts also produced lymphocyte transformation and inhibition of lymphocyte migration when incubated with white cells of some atopic patients (Brostoff & Roitt 1969). In a series of 2700 intradermal skin-tests to 12 common inhalant allergens (Green et al. 1967) reported a 6% incidence of delayed skin reactions. No delayed reactions were observed in 20 children who had immediate reactions to pollen extracts of some grasses and to some Compositae plants (Go et al. 1970).
An outbreak of dermatitis was observed in the spring of 1971 in the Gifu district of Japan. The flower of this species appeared to be the responsible agent in a farmer aged 35 years who had contact dermatitis of the hands. A patch test was positive. Flowering of this plant is generally regarded as occurring every 60 or 120 years (Ito 1972).
The needle-like hairs on the leaf sheaths of this pantropical agricultural weed can cause skin irritation in farmers who carry out manual weeding.
The plant, perhaps a native of eastern Asia, is cultivated in most warm regions as a source of sugar (sucrose). The sugar is contained in the soft central tissues of the stem. The canes are cut before flowering and crushed to extract the juice.
Burkill (1935) recorded that the leaves were used to scarify an infant's face before tattooing. Labourers in sugar-cane fields can develop an urticarial eruption from Mucuna pruriens (Behl et al. 1966) and pruritic pustular folliculitis which starts on the lower limbs and spreads to other hairy areas producing follicular atrophy and cicatricial alopecia (Pardo-Castello 1962). Workers who habitually carry cut canes develop hyperkeratosis and thickening of the skin of the shoulders (Pardo-Castello 1962). The stigma is unilateral depending upon the hendedness of the individual (Arnold 1968). According to Schwartz et al. (1957), almost no sugar eczema occurs on plantations but in sugar mills, squamous and tylotic eczema of the palms and thickening of the nails occurs in workers who clean the centrifuges with large quantities of water.
A fungus of stored sugar canes can cause dermatitis of the exposed skin and genitals (Abstract 1921). Furunculosis, known as sugar-boils, can affect sugar, candy, and ice-cream workers; crystals of sugar can scratch the skin and exert a hygroscopic effect (Sequeira 1911, Ferranini 1920, Queries & Minor Notes 1929, Downing & Welch 1932, Schwartz et al. 1957).
Respiratory symptoms (bagassosis) can affect workers exposed to crushed extracted sugar cane (bagasse).
Sucrose is also derived from Beta. Some other reactions to sugar are noted in the introduction to this family.
The sharp edges of the leaves of this species can cause mechanical injury (Behl et al. 1966).
This species is cultivated in northern Europe as a cereal and for fodder. Contact sensitivity to this species and to other members of the Gramineae was observed by Marcussen (1937).
Cattle which eat this plant can develop stomatitis (Bankowski et al. 1956).
The leaf is irritant to the skin (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962).
The seed can attach itself to clothing and to animals (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962).
In NW Moroccan traditional medicine, fresh parts of the inflorescence are used externally to treat warts (Merzouki et al. 2000).
Patch tests carried out using the leaves of this species crushed in a small quantity of normal saline elicited positive reactions in 6 of 45 contact dermatitis patients tested in New Delhi, India (Singh et al. 1978).
In an investigation of "weed dermatitis" in the southern United States, an extract of this plant produced negative patch test reactions in all of 50 consecutive patients tested (Shelmire 1939).
Hoffer (1918) observed 25 cases of dermatitis in Sorghum cutters. He was unable to decide whether the plant itself or a parasite upon it was responsible.
The bristles of certain brooms are made from this plant. The particles given off in the making of these brooms contain a hard spike which surrounded the seed; this material caused intense pruritus and eczema (Piccinini 1920), which was considered to be a mechanically rather than a chemically induced irritation (Prosser White 1934). Occupational hazards in broom making were described by Schwartz et al. (1957).
The plants can cause mechanical injury (Oakes & Butcher 1962).
This grass can cause cuts in humans (Aplin 1976).
Early explorers of Australia noted mechanical injury from this grass. The awns can irritate the skin of man and sheep (Cleland 1914). Muenscher (1951) notes that S. comata Trin. & Rupr. (needle grass) and S. spartea Trin. (porcupine grass) can produce mechanical injury.
According to Burkill (1935), the sharp pointed seed may be used to pierce the earlobe.
The sharp callus of the mature fruit can become entangled in the wool of sheep (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962).
Common bread wheat is one of the most important temperate cereals, with over 17,000 cultivars documented, having a complex and incompletely understood ancestry. Although most authors refer to "Triticum aestivum L." as the botanical source of wheat, authorities on the subject recognise that many of the cultivars represent crosses between Aegilops tauschii Cosson and Triticum turgidum L. Thus, it may be more appropriate to consider bread wheats assigned to the genus Triticum as intergeneric hybrids, and accordingly to refer to them as x Triticum cultivars (Mabberley 1997).
Patch tests carried out using the leaves of an unidentified wheat cultivar crushed in a small quantity of normal saline elicited positive reactions in 3 of 18 contact dermatitis patients tested in New Delhi, India (Singh et al. 1978).
An insect (a Trogoderma species) that infests flour, has irritant hairs (Swan & Papp 1972).
Inhalation of a fungus of wheat flour can cause wheat weevil disease, a form of allergic alveolitis (Morgan & Seaton 1975).
Zineb and maneb, fungicides applied to wheat and barley, produced allergic contact dermatitis in a man who prepared the seed and in a farmer (Burry 1976).
In Queensland, Australia, crossbred wether sheep grazing on this grass developed severe photosensitization and icterus, marked by drooping ears, swelling of the subcutis of the face and eyelids, and congested, yellowish mucous membranes. The sheep rapidly lost condition and died. In these animals the skin over the muzzle, ears, and eyelids was necrotic and the conjunctival sac filled with purulent exudate with consequent blindness (Briton & Paltridge 1941).
A photodermatitis known as dikoor (literally, "thick ear"), which is clinically similar to tribulosis (see Tribulus terrestris L., fam. Zygophyllaceae), may occur in grazing animals following ingestion of this grass. The disease is very elusive, and seems to be associated with a smut (Ustilago) infection (Steyn 1934, Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962).
About a third of 50 corn-pickers developed eczema or papular urticaria (Goldshtein & Speranski 1962). Blighted corn (DiPrisco 1953) and an arsenic preparation applied for corn-blight (Lapysheff 1931) caused dermatitis. Dermatitis was observed in 3-7% (Seligman & Key 1968) and in 15% (Tudor 1941) of workers in corn-processing plants. The dermatitis was a low grade irritant type almost confined to those handling wet corn during processing for canning. Szegö (1965) observed positive patch test reactions to the leaf in a survey of agricultural workers. In New Delhi, India, Singh et al. (1978) carried out patch tests using the leaves of maize crushed in a small quantity of normal saline and observed positive reactions in 6 of 29 contact dermatitis patients tested.
Corn flour was reported to cause dermatitis (Coca et al. 1931) and corn starch on sheets was reported to cause contact urticaria. Corn starch, considered to be a known allergen and has been removed from certain cosmetics (Anon 1973).
Corn or maize can be infested with parasitic mites (Prosser White 1934).
Contact sensitivity to maize is noted under Beta.
Contact dermatitis of the fingers from popcorn was reported by Waldbott & Shea (1948).