How are botanical dermatoses diagnosed?

Updated: Jun 10, 2021
  • Author: Glen H Crawford, MD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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Identifying plants is a difficult task. The following recommendations may help neophyte botanists.

First, specimens should be collected. Unlike shrubs (ie, low-growing plants with woody stems), herbs (ie, low-growing plants with fleshy stems) should be collected in their entirety with their flowering and/or fruiting materials intact. Woody plants should be collected with about 2 ft of the ends of the branch; the leaves should be attached, and any flowering or fruiting materials should be present. Plants may be pressed before they are submitted for identification. Alternatively, they may be placed in a plastic bag with no added water.

Submit specimens with the following data: (1) a description of the location where the plant was found, and (2) a detailed description of the habitat or origin of the plant (eg, cultivated in a garden or growing wild along a creek bank, in an open field, in woodlands at high elevation).

A plant taxonomist should be consulted. Every US state and most Canadian provinces have an established protocol for routine and rapid plant identification. In most places, the service is free. In suburban and rural areas, the county or regional Agricultural Extension Service or Farm Advisors are knowledgeable about the procedures for immediate plant identification, and they have access to the regional herbaria. Urban areas have similar services, which are usually accessed through the urban horticulturist of the state extension service or through the local garden center or botanical garden.

Patch testing

A thorough description of patch testing procedures can be found in the Medscape Drugs & Diseases article on Allergic Contact Dermatitis. A comprehensive review of patch testing for plant allergens is included in the Bibliography in the article by Mitchell. [26, 27]

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