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Zucchini causing skin reaction

Hi there!

Basically, every time I chop up and prepare zucchini/ courgettes, the skin on my hands and fingers become really dry, tight and hard. Then a couple hours later, the skin starts peeling, and this can last a good day or so.

In my research on the net, I see I'm not the only one to experience this - but no-where have I found an explanation for *why* this happens and it'd be nice to understand it: one step closer towards avoiding it happening again (in a way other than just not cooking with zucchini..) Although not life-threatening or anything, it is unpleasant.

I'd be really grateful if anyone could help shed some light on this :)

Thanks guys!
31 Responses
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Avatar universal
It is not dried slime, it is a contact dermatitis reaction. Most people only have it from hard squash, but apparently soft squash is a less common form of the reaction.
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Avatar universal
ACTUALLY the tightness and peeling is more likely just the slime from the zucchini! I peel & cut zucchini & cucumbers very often & the slime just doesn't wash off & it sticks to your skin. Even though it feels like your own skin is tightening & peeling, it's just dried slime. Cucumbers aren't as bad as zucchini in this instance, but it is still irritating. But just wash & scrub your hands, it shouldn't last all that long. Washing your hands will get rid of the irritating dry/tight feeling for a very brief period of time, if you really can't stand it.
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1 Comments
how did I accidentally post this twice...
Avatar universal
ACTUALLY the tightness and peeling is more likely just the slime from the zucchini! I peel & cut zucchini & cucumbers very often & the slime just doesn't wash off & it sticks to your skin. Even though it feels like your own skin is tightening & peeling, it's just dried slime. Cucumbers aren't as bad as zucchini in this instance, but it is still irritating. But just wash & scrub your hands, it shouldn't last all that long. Washing your hands will get rid of the irritating dry/tight feeling for a very brief period of time, if you really can't stand it.
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1 Comments
whoops didn't see the last few answers lol
Avatar universal
*******************************************************************************
I CAN EXPLAIN WHATS GOING ON HERE AND OFFER A SOLUTION!
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Ok as previously stated, this superglue like gue is there to seal the plant upon exposure to air should the outer skin be pierced. This is the plants second line of defence after the tough outer skin; it exists to discourage/prevent insects and other animals from eating it! Think about it like this. Little insect comes along, bites courgette and gets its mouth arms or legs superglued together, insect dies a virgin thus all courgette eating insects are wiped out.

Clever plant.

Not so nice for getting on your hands though. So apart from gloves, what’s the trick?

Well the secret from today’s personal observation (and the ensuing irritation which lead me here) is that courgettes have TWO layers of skin, an outer layer and an inner layer with their special sauce (which is also likely to be mildly toxic) in between. Think of it like your house, you have an outer wall and an inner wall with your insulation between the layers. Most people with the intention of removing dirt and eating a clean courgette without seemilngly wasting too much just peel off the outer layer of skin with one stroke of the peeler before turning the courgette in their hand, this removes the first layer of skin, exposing natures superglue, then as you turn the courgette round in your hand to peel the next side you rub your fingers straight in the slime! The trick is that courgettes need peeling twice. You need to run the peeler down the courgette for two or three strokes in the same area, the first stoke removes the outer dark green layer, exposing the gue and the second layer of skin, which is a pale green. You know you’ve peeled enough when you reach a pure white layer, the pure white layer is safe to touch, the light green layer means that the second skin covered in gue is still present.

How did I learn this? Well today I peeled 3 courgettes, the first 2 I did wrong, but after noticing the unpleasant slime (which is still on my hand) I gave the third one a thorough peeling and removed it properly (not realising my hand had already been glued till later). The third one was also much more pleasant to eat. So much so I actually chose to laboriously remove the skins from each individual slice of the other two courgettes while on my plate. As to whether or not this sap toxic to eat, I don’t know, it’s unlikely to be enough to make you ill unless you are especially sensitive with some kind of leaky gut/digestive/auto immune issue, but if you’re after optimum mental/physical/digestive performance, my advice would be to take it all off because after all, it is there to protect the plant and to serve the plants interests not yours. I could describe it as being similar to the film left in your mouth after eating a very green banana, unpleasant, difficult to remove and yucky.

You’re more likely to be poisoned by a plant than an animal. A bull defends itself with horns, plants defend themselves with toxins. Learn about phytic acid in legumes! Good one to google if you’re interested in maximising your performance.

Viva the Western Price Paleo Bulletproof revolution.
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
weird enough my zucchini were over grown....quite large. I noticed my skin turning a dead looking cream color and numbness up to my wrists. My skin did not dry or peel. I scrubbed my hands with a fingernail brush and eventually the feelings eased away.
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Avatar universal
i forgot to mention there is also less fluid produced as the fruit ripens and ages. squash starts hardening up and producing more seeds inside as it matures. the majority of you experiencing very juicy zukes from your own garden could be picking a bit under-ripe. give them some more time & it may be less of a problem. =)
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Avatar universal
thanks luweezy for bringing some scientific logic to this, that's exactly right. i just want to add further: it's not pesticides, GMO, etc. (be careful because that's how myths get started) it's the natural defense of the squash, to seal/dry/scab up any damages to itself. like our blood does.
as an organic famer i can assure you there's no need to be timid about continuing to eat zucchini! on the contrary, you should feel happy that your zuke is nice and fresh - the longer it is off the vine the less it will bleed.
just be mindful it stains your clothes!
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1 Comments
It happened to me while am peeling the cucumbers ,my hands are dry and tight with green stain
Avatar universal
Thanks for the info! I had a feeling this was what it was, as when I was cutting up my zucchini last night I noticed it got all slimy, but it's nice to have it confirmed. I also do see the slightly green tint when I look at it carefully on my hands.

Too bad for the zucchini, it didn't keep me from eating it!
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Avatar universal
The zuchinni I worked with today came from my garden ..totally organic...still had the hand peeling.
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Avatar universal
I just grated zuchinni and the one hand I was holding the zuchinni started peeling really bad..the hand I was holding the knife in is fine...it must be the juices in the zuchinni....I was freaking out and realized it had to be the zuchinni causing this....so wrird.
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Avatar universal
not it!  the zucchini from our garden does this to our skin and all we use is dirt and water for growing!  please tell your nutritionist!!
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Avatar universal
I thought I'd research this topic today as it happened to me yesterday.  It was really the most bizarre thing.  I would describe my experienced as more of a numbing than a skin rash.  I had no peeling but noticed it, primarily on the hand I used to hold the zucchini while peeling it and secondarily on the hand I used to hold the veggie while shredding it.  My skin was shiny from the veggie residue and truly felt as though I had used some sort of analgesic on my skin.  I first noticed that my fingertips were desensitized to touch. I washed the residue off with simple kitchen hand soap and the numbing ceased shortly thereafter.  I have never had a problem eating zuchinni raw or cooked (I likely eat more raw).
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Avatar universal
I ran several huge zucchini through my food processor shredder today. Now I too have the film on my fingers. Funny thing is, I've never had this happen before with zucchini. Butternut squash yes however. That gets a yellowish tinge film on my hands. Really annoying! But it always goes away after a few hours. Wearing gloves is the best way to deal with it. Those nitrile blue gloves work great, just like with jalapeno peppers. Some things you just have to work with it. I don't believe the squash skin is harmful and I will continue to prepare and eat the suckers. Where would we be without zucchini bread or all the other wonderful dishes you can prepare with the goofy green squash. I do think that letting them get too big may make the squash skin more apt to do this to the human skin. I got these particular ones from my brother's organic garden. Mine have never caused this. He lets his get up to 3 pounds each!!!! I like them a lot smaller but thought it was a good chance to get gobs of shredded zuke for bread to freeze. I'm going to try the emory board. Thanks for that remedy!
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Avatar universal
I just had this happen to me Saturday. I peeled some zucchini to make vegetable lasagna for my out of town guest (five kids) and my hand holding the zucchini swelled and started peeling! I was hysterical, and the kids were hysterical.  Three layers of skin came off, when my fingertips got sore I went to the urgent care and the doctor told me that I had some allergic reaction to the zucchini because I kept itching. I have a steriod cream and antihistamine.  I still have a slight hives like feeling. Those with allergies know the feeling that I am trying to explain.  I do not think I can eat this vegetable again. I feel traumatized.
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Avatar universal
tweetsy85 is absolutely right.  You're skin isn't peeling, you're not having an allergic reaction.  There is no reason to avoid zucchini or seek professional help.  When you cut the skin of a zucchini it seeps a viscous liquid.  It's how it heals itself when it is nicked in the garden.  When you're chooping the zucchini for cooking, you get this liquid all over your hands.  As it dries it creates a film that makes your skin feel tight.  As it comes off, it looks like your skin is peeling, but it's just the film flaking off.  It is difficult to get off, but it is not causing your skin to peel.  If you check your cutting board, you'll notice the difficult to remove film covering that surface, too.  Try coating your hands with watered down white school glue and let it dry there.  It's easier to get off with water, but it will create the same tightening and peeling appearance.
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Avatar universal
I had this happen for the first time today. Zucchinis are from our garden with no pesticides or anything similar but could be GMO seed. ??  My hands also swelled in addition to the above symptoms. Anyone else have swelling? Lavendar essential oil took the swelling away immediately but the "super glue" fingers are still with me. I've done some poking around as I'm scared to eat them now. There is such a thing as a zucchini allergy. One man reported that eating them cooked isn't a problem but eating raw nearly killed him. I nibbled on a few raw while I worked with them. I feel itchy but think that could just be in my head since I'm worked up over the allergy possibility. :)  Thoughts?
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Avatar universal
This just happened to me for the first time ever! My skin got really tight on the one hand I used to hold the zucchini while I cut it. Then the skin started to peel right in front of my eyes. I was concerned this was from some sort of pesticide on the zucchini as well, but not sure now.
Does anyone know if we should eat it once we experience this???
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Avatar universal
I did some research on  GMO genetically modified zucchini and I suspect this could be the reason for the strong adverse skin reactions as well. Try organic and see if that makes a difference.
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Avatar universal
i went to my nutritionist today...told her about the zucchini and she thinks its from the zucchini absorbing pesticides...i am going to try organic zucchini and see if it does'nt happen then i will know for sure
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1 Comments
did you ever find out about if organic zucchini has the same reaction?
Avatar universal
Use a fingernail file emory board to file off the hard skin it worked for me tonight! i cut zucchini and my hands felt numb and stiff my daughter said it reminded er of when she got crazy glue on her hand and the only thing that workd was an emory board so i tried it and it worked great! but i will never eat zucchini again! creeped me out!
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Avatar universal
This is not a dermotological or medical issue. On the contrary, this is caused by slime on the zucchini after it is peeled. It creates a film on your skin that is next to impossible to get off. When it dries, it looks like it is dry skin and peels just like dry skin does. Since it is clear, many people think it is just dry skin. You will notice that if you wet your hand and scrape a little bit off with your fingernail, the accumulated scrapings have a distinctive light green tint. It is very difficult to remove the coating from your skin, but the best method I have found is to make a paste out of baking soda and scrub your hand with it. It still takes some significant scrubbing, but it will come off eventually. I've heard that a salt paste works as well, but I haven't tried that. Good luck!
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1 Comments
This sounds 100% correct. I don't believe that I am allergic to zucchini since I eat them all the time without issue. However, last night when I was peeling one, I noticed a slime texture being emitted from the freshly peeled zucchini. My left hand that was holding the zucchini and was getting slippery so i decided to wash it until the slime went away. Afterwards, I switched hands to turn the zucchini into noodles. The next day, only my left hand, the one that had been in contact with the slime, was effected by this dry "skin" peel.
Additionally, I have had a similar thing happen to me when i peel butternut squash. Perhaps this has to do squash type vegetables. Thanks again for the answer!
Avatar universal
Has anyone else found out if it is harmful to eat zucchini when you have this reaction? I recently started a raw foods diet and have been peeling zucchinis to make mock fettuccine noodles (very good by the way and tastes a lot like the real thing). Anyway, I noticed that whenever I finished peeling, my finger tips would be really raw and tight and like someone else said, it felt like they had super glue all over them. After a few hours they would peel a bit but by the next day, it was gone. I had thought that maybe it was sap or something from the zucchini that was adhering to my fingers and was just really hard to get off - I can't believe it's an actual allergy! I'm a little bit scared to eat zucchinis now even though I've never had any other kind of reaction to them. Has anyone found out?
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1 Comments
So I had this happen years ago when I was helping my mom bake zucchini bread and everytime since my hands have this issue. While today I had my first issue when I cut my butternut spuash I just placed my hand on top and it felt like the skin was shrinking- the weirdest sensation- the skin appears is cracked, scaly appearance but usually disappears after a few hours and the first time I was not sure about eating the zucchini bread , not after a few days I broke under the pressure of it being there and years later  have no troubles when enjoying homemade goods or food with these vegetables.
Avatar universal
It happens to me too!  I am wondering if I should avoid eating zucchini b/c it might be doing the same thing in my intestines.  Obviously it is not "agreeing" with me.  I have never noticed any reaction when I eat it.
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Avatar universal
The same thing happened to me last night for the first time ever!  It was as if I got super-glue all over my finger tips.  I scrubbed them with every kind of soap I had in the house and nothing helped.  I even tried fingernail polish remover.  When I went to bed I slathered on the lotion and this morning they were back to normal.  So weird!  I'm also  comforted to know I'm not the only one that this happened to.  I seems that this particular zucchini had more sap in it than I've noticed in others in the past.  Maybe that had something to do with it.
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