Phytophototoxin Poisoning Treatment & Management

Updated: Feb 16, 2019
  • Author: Toluwumi O Olafisoye , MD; Chief Editor: Sage W Wiener, MD  more...
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Emergency Department Care

If the patient presents shortly after exposure, the affected area should be washed with soap and water to remove plant sap. Protect the affected area from sunlight by covering and/or applying sunblock until at least 48 hours post exposure.

Treat inflammatory condition based on severity of symptoms, as follows:

  • Treat mild reactions with cool wet dressings, topical steroids, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

  • Severe reactions may require systemic steroids

  • Topical application of 4% hydroquinone cream once or twice daily for several weeks may lessen hyperpigmentation; this is best done in conjunction with a dermatologist [36, 37]

Patient reassurance that the problem will resolve once the offending agent has been removed is very helpful. Consultation with a dermatologist may be helpful.



Limit or avoid contact with the specific plant. Limit sun exposure. Regular use of a UV-A-blocking sunscreen may help to prevent phytophotodermatitis.


Long-Term Monitoring

While phytophototoxicity cases may spontaneously resolve within 3 to 5 days, wound care may be necessary for up to 3 weeks for adequate treatment before clinical wound resolution. [1]

Long-term exposure and severe reactions may result in hyperpigmentation requiring continued topical steroid treatment. If symptoms persist or worsen instead of improving, other illnesses, such as the primary light disorders, should be considered and further evaluation is warranted by a dermatologist.