Wednesday, April 7th, 2010...12:00 am

Getting Pricked by a Rose Thorn


Serious rose thorns by Martin LaBar

TheGardenLady received this question from Donna:

My sister-in-law was stuck by a thorn from a Knock Out Rose. The area is very red and swollen. Are the thorns poisonous? What to do?

When gardening, it is always advisable to USE gloves.

One can get an infection from any cut. However, in all the reading and lectures on plants, TheGardenLady has never heard that rose thorns in Knock Out Roses or any other roses are poisonous. But rose thorns can give a nasty cut. Because one can get cut when out in the garden and any cut can become infected, it is best to do any type of gardening – even cutting flowers – with gardening gloves on. And then after gardening you should always wash your hands. See here.

Besides cuts, thorns can give what are called “puncture wounds.” A puncture wound goes deeper into the skin and can push dirt and bacteria into the skin. Because it’s not on the surface and not an open cut, washing doesn’t clean out the wound as well, so it can become infected more easily.  As well, when you’re gardening outside, you’re exposed to all the dirt and bacteria out in nature, so there’s a wide range of what could be causing an infection.  Read this.

If an area is still red and swollen after getting a cut, one should consult a physician. Tell the physician how the area became infected so that one can get the best treatment to remove the infection.

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  • I pricked my finger on a rose thorn a few weeks ago. I wore gloves but the thorn still went right through. There was very little bleeding, no infection, swelling or itching. The wound has since healed but I can still see a dark dot under the healed skin and there is still a tiny bit of soreness when I touch it. What is this dark dot? Is there a chance that part of the thorn broke off inside the wound or would it definitely have become infected in that case?

  • Funny thing happened to me today. I was pruning roses and got a brief stick in the knuckle over my pinkie by a very large thorn. I bled a little, but being a tough gal, I went on with my task at hand. A few hours later, I have slight swelling, but can hardly move my finger. It is extremely painful up the pinkie and down the outside of my palm. Any idea what’s caused this???

  • Hi Vegas Sandie,
    I have the same reaction to a rose thorn stick in the first joint of my finger today. It didn’t bleed and I am fairly certain that no part of the thorn is still in my finger, but about 6 hours later my finger is swollen and very painful. A little redness over the joint. What was the answer in your case? See a doctor? Medication? Hope to hear your answer.

  • In August I was working in my flower beds(I was wearing leather gardening gloves) a thorn from my Knock Out rose went through my glove and pricked my middle finger at the joint it swelled I couldn’t bend it and it hurt for a couple of weeks. Today, February 22, 2012 I was pruning the knock out roses again a thorn pricked me on the right side of my right wrist it has swelled is hot to the touch i can’t move it and I have terrible pain all the way to my elbow. I am starting to get a little worried.

  • If I were pricked in the garden and my wrist or fingers swelled, I would not just worry, I would get to my physician immediately.

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