08:32 26 May 2011
Millions of gardeners are putting their green fingers at risk of serious skin disease, new research has revealed.
In a nationwide study of gardeners over two thirds admitted failing to protect their hands adequately in the garden.
The research revealed skin problems were so serious in 67 per cent of gardeners, they had sought professional medical treatment, with more than one in ten being forced to stop gardening because their condition was chronic.
The research was carried out by MyHandEczema.co.uk to raise awareness of skin problems amongst the 41 million people in the UK who have access to a garden. It is backed by leading horticultural experts who are encouraging the gardening community to take greater care of their green fingers.
BBC gardening presenter Alys Fowler, who suffers from eczema said:
"My hands are my livelihood so I always look after the skin on my hands as much as I care for my plants.
"There are many hidden dangers in the garden and your hands are constantly exposed to the elements. What look like beautiful flowers can actually cause some very ugly skin reactions, so familiarise yourself with irritant or allergic plants and handle them with care.
"If you do suffer from a skin problem like hand eczema, seek help from a dermatologist or skin specialist as soon as possible. I know from experience that the longer you leave it, the more severe the condition can get, leaving you unable to continue your hobby or, in some cases, even carry on working."
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