Treating A Bougainvillea Thorn Prick?

June 21, 2006

I was trimming bougainvillea and a thorn poked my finger through the gloves I was wearing. Three days later, my finger is stiff, red, and very sore. I cannot bend it at the joint where I was poked. Is this something that needs to be treated? I don't see a visible thorn. Can I get an infection?


Hardiness Zone: 10a

Michelle from San Diego


By (Guest Post)
June 22, 20061 found this helpful
Best Answer

You most definitely need to get to a doctor!!

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June 22, 20061 found this helpful
Best Answer

Until you get to a doctor.........soak it in a solution of epsom salt and warm water. That should draw some of the poison out of it. Do you have a red swollen finger or are there red streaks running away from the initial sore area? If you have red streaks you need to get yourself to a doctor........NOW!

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5 More Questions

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December 17, 2012

How do you treat a bougainvillea thorn in your thumb?

By Reza


December 24, 20121 found this helpful
Best Answer

Pull out the thorn. Make it bleed a little. Wash your hands with soap and water. Put an antibiotic ointment on the prick. Put a bandaid on it.

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Have you or do you know of anyone that has had an allergic reaction to a bougainvillea plant?

I have had an allergic reaction to something and I'm not sure what it was. It has affected my whole body. My blood pressure was 225/99 when I was admitted to the hospital on 10-10-19, I was dehydrated and my potassium and sodium were low.

I was fine until September 11, 2019. I took my hanging basket of this plant down. It had grown large and was hard for me to handle without getting touched by the plant. I think the thorns on it hit my arm. I had 3 little bumps that turned into a 2" X 4" inch whelp. It itched like crazy. It took over a week for the whelp to disappear and my face had broken out into a rash that felt like poison oak and a bad sunburn. It affected my eyes as well. It lasted a month and didn't start getting better until I stopped getting near the plant. As of October 7, when I went to my doctor to get a prescription for eye drops, my rash was gone. This is when I found out that my blood pressure was in the high danger zone. I am now getting my blood pressure under control. My blood pressure has never been a problem until this happened.

This is the information that I found on the internet:

Thorns. Bougainvillea's leaves are not toxic, but a prick from the plant's sharp thorns can lead to dermatitis, a skin rash typically caused by an allergic reaction. Symptoms of dermatitis caused by bougainvillea resemble that of poison oak or poison ivy, and may include pain, itching, stinging, or burning skin, blisters, scaly rash, swelling, and sores.

I am thinking that this would be just the area of the prick and not anywhere else on the body.

I would like to know if anyone else has had a bad reaction from this plant that affected the whole body.


October 16, 20190 found this helpful

Anyone can be allergic to anything. An allergist can confirm what you are allergic to.

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October 16, 20190 found this helpful

This same type allergy affected me in 2014 without a blood pressure problem. A dermatologist saw me and gave me a prescription for Elidel ointment for my skin. That little tube of medicine cost $200.00. I had half of the tube left over and that is what I used this time and it helped. I also had blood drawn to check to see what I was allergic to and the test came back that I was allergic to a lot of things so she sent me to an allergist.

He looked at the list of things the blood test showed and told me I was not allergic to all those and a skin test was done. Nothing showed up on the skin tests. It's crazy.

I am allergic to gluten and some medications.

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October 17, 20191 found this helpful

The thorns on the plant are dangerous and if you are hit by one, picked by one, or even scratched by one they can make you have the reaction you are talking about. My dad was triming roses and one scratched hi leg. He had the same issues as you are having right now. He was very sick for several months after this one. These plants can be dangerous and it is not an easy plant to cut back and take care of because of the thorns on them. I had to remove all of them from my yard because I am allergic to them too.

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January 15, 20200 found this helpful

Got swollen thumb so swollen it wouldnt bend
Swollen bump on other finger

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January 22, 20200 found this helpful

I just took down a bogenvillia and was jabbed 5 times both arms, it hurts for sure, its the finger prick thats the worst, damn thing even went thru my shoe to pick my foot! No going to doctor- will put an antibiotic on it-

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April 28, 20200 found this helpful

I was poked in my index finger 5 weeks ago by a bougainvillea thorn. My entire body felt like it was infested with fire ants biting me everywhere. It was so painful and itchy. My mouth itched and tingled, my eyes, inside my ears and other body orifices. My dr put me on an antibiotic. Nothing happened. Then she put me in 21 days of Prednisone. Nothing. She prescribed a topical cream which works on the itchy welts for about 20 minutes. I've been taking epsom salt baths several times a day and eating benadryl like its candy. Nothing wants to stop this thing. Every day I wake up with 3 to 5 new welts. I'm miserable and want this over! Any helps is appreciated!

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May 28, 20200 found this helpful

Why wife has exactly your symptoms but this only happened a few weeks ago. Did you find a solution? She is miserable.

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June 28, 2018

How do I get a bougainvillea thorn out of the bottom of my foot?


June 28, 20181 found this helpful

Soak it in a solution of Epsom salt and water and get to a doctor as quickly as you can.

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June 28, 20180 found this helpful

Ouch! This site at the end of the message gives clear directions for removal, although if it were me, because these thorns can cause all kinds of irritations, reactions, and complications, I would leave extraction and treatment to a PCP or urgent care. ASAP!!!!

You don't want to risk not getting it all out. Be sure to follow the md or nurses advice for treatment so you don't risk infection. Sending healing thoughts your way!

If you do a dyi removal, I urge you to least call your doctor to find out what they recommend for after care and what to look for if things change. Safely first!!!

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June 30, 20180 found this helpful

Soak your foot in extra strong Epsom salt/hot water solution for at least 30 minutes. Water should be hot but not hot enough to burn your foot. Repeat and if thorn comes out, repeat same process again.

Repeat one more time and if thorn does not easily come out, go to an emergency care center.
Emergency care centers will take anyone with or without insurance. There may be an upfront fee but this may be deemed an emergency so try to find a way to do this.
I know this does not sound very orthodox but you can apply duct tape (after thorough cleaning) and sometimes it will "draw" out a thorn but you may still need to be sure there is no poison left and Epsom salt solution may help with this.

Seeing a doctor, if at all possible, is your safest route so pay close attention to your foot until you make that trip.

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April 6, 2020

I stood on a bougainvillea stick with little thorns on the sides barefoot. My heel is a little swollen and red around the sore spot.

There is a small brown dot in the centre of the red spot, but I can't get it out. What do I do?


April 6, 20200 found this helpful

This sounds like you have the head of the thorn stuck in your foot which can cause the redness and an infection. You should try soaking your foot in hot water and espon salts to get rid of the redness. When the foot is wet and the skin is soft use a needle to get the rest of the thorn out of your foot. A lot of times this will fester up on its own and it is possible to push it out. This will take time and the foot will continue to hurt. The best way to do this is with a needle and a pair of tweezers.

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April 6, 20200 found this helpful

I agree with poehere about the Epsom Salt and hot water. The Epsom Salt has a drawing power that will draw the infection (redness) out of your foot and soften the skin so you can remove it.
The water should be as hot as you can stand without burning yourself and use lots of Epsom Salt - maybe 2 cups or more. You can reheat the water or add more hot water if necessary.
If you do not have Epsom Salt you can use just hot water and see if this does the job of softening the skin. it may take 2 or 3 soakings.

If you have to go to bed without removing the thorn I would suggest covering the thorn with either duck tape or first aid tape (cloth tape is best but any you have on hand will help and may even draw the thorn out when you remove the tape. Also, for some reason, that I cannot explain, covering it like this seems to ease the pain.

You should continue to soak your foot in hot water until all the red is gone.
You can then use an antibiotic ointment and cover with a band aid.

To get this to work, just dissolve a cup of the salts into a warm bath and soak whatever part of the body has the splinter. Failing that, you can also put some of the salts onto a bandage pad and leave it covered for a day; this will eventually help bring the splinter to the surface."

Just remember, this could get more infected if not taken care of soon so try this or you may have to see a doctor.

In the past we used what everyone called "black salve" and some drug stores still carry this but I do not believe the strength is the same as in the past but you might want to ask about if you are able to visit your local drug store or even buy online. Ichthammol is the name but many still call it 'black salve'.

"Ichthammol ointment, also known as black drawing salve, is a very effective, non-invasive way of removing splinters. Available over the counter at most pharmacies, this ointment works by softening the skin around the splinter, allowing the body to expel the splinter naturally."

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June 7, 2014

Can bougainvillea cause severe itching?

By melroyse


June 23, 20170 found this helpful

Yes the thorns have a toxin in them that can cause severe itching especially if you are sensitive to the toxin.

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