Nothing says the holidays quite like bright lights, trees and other decorations; and no holiday decor would seem complete without those pretty poinsettias. Although poinsettias are a fixture around many homes this time of year, calls to the IPC increase from concerned parents, grandparents, and caretakers of small children (or pets), wanting to know if poinsettias are safe. Well here’s the scoop, in association with some information we derived from an excellent review article entitled, “Poinsettia Exposures Have Good Outcomes…Just As We Thought.”
The myth of the poisonous poinsettia plant first came about in 1920 when a child allegedly died after eating a portion of this festive plant. This story was based on hearsay and never proven. According to the review article published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, during a specified 8 year period, over 22,000 children had eaten portions of poinsettia plants and nearly 100% of those children were absolutely free of symptoms. Nausea and vomiting were rarely reported.
During the same time period, greater than 1,000 children who handled poinsettia leaves were evaluated. Only 18% of these children experienced any type of skin irritation that was described as mild and was relieved by washing with a little soap and water.
According to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, pets may experience some mild stomach upset, vomiting, or drooling if the poinsettia plant is eaten. Regardless if it’s your child(ren) or pet(s) you’re concerned about, it’s safe to say, that poinsettia plants are not the deadly threat they were once reported to be. Therefore, there is no need to exclude them from your holiday decor.