Blackthorn Poisoning: A Warning.

File 03-12-2015 8 56 46 pm

On Tuesday evening I was scratched on the hand by a blackthorn, not deeply, but enough to draw blood. Fortunately, I know about blackthorn poisoning: it can be very unpleasant.

A piece of blackthorn burying itself under the skin might cause severe infection, blood poisoning, swelling and pain. If left too long before treatment, amputation might be the result. 

Blackthorns are covered in unpleasant bacteria. If you have a piece buried in your flesh, the best course of action is to get yourself off to the hospital if you have a rapidly escalating and unpleasant reaction; don’t leave it until the area around the wound turns black.

My light scratch was reacting badly to the blackthorn toxins within 5 minutes. I sprayed the area liberally with surgical spirits on my return home, which quickly reduced the angry redness and swelling. I woke in night with the swelling raging, so I sprayed it then and repeatedly since. 

The photograph shows the scratch as I write (Thursday evening) – the redness and inflammation greatly reduced. If I had not treated the infection immediately, the result might be a very swollen and painful hand by now, and a trip to the hospital. 

So the liberal use of surgical spirit has saved me a lot of discomfort and pain. I will continue spraying until the surgical spirit stops stinging as it hits the wound.

I would guess that not many people are aware of the problem blackthorn can be to us and animals.

40 Comments on “Blackthorn Poisoning: A Warning.

    • Thanks for this. Just got a torn in my scalp today – ok now, but thumb is sore so may have got one there too. Off to apply surgical spirit just in case.
      Been removing tree guards from the trees so crawling underneath them – I’ll gear up better next week to do the rest.


      • Also – just as a reminder to all who know and info for those who don’t – Magnesium sulphate paste is superb for removing even the tiniest bits of thorn or really aggravating fine hairs such as on cactus. Cheap and very effective. Still need surgical spirit though.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m a great believer in surgical spirits to zap the nasty things that inhabit the black oozing slime and fetid stagnant water found in the darkest corners of the marsh.


    • Yes- I had two days in hospital when I fell down and got a Blackthorn inbedded deep in the palm of my hand. Hand swelled up like a bunch of bananas and required operation to locate thorn and remove it – nasty !


  1. Nasty scratch Mike. I have had blackthorn embedded in my skin a couple of times…very painful. Fortunately I didn’t suffer any dire consequences. I have never heard of using surgical spirits. Would an antihistamine have helped I wonder? Hope your hand soon heals.


    • Some people are more prone to the effects of hawthorn and blackthorn than others. Surgical spirits is a skin steriliser. Antihistamine just blocks the production of histamine that causes inflammation; it doesn’t zap the bugs.

      My scratch is fine this morning. I’m a big boy and can take it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Scott,
      A blackthorn is a hedging bush/tree with huge nasty thorns. When I say huge I mean anywhere between an inch up to 10 inches long, depending if the hedge has ever been cut. They spread out of hedgerows into grass verges. Mainly found farmers fields
      Believe you and me when I say you will know one if you see one. Nasty critters as I know as I’ve just had surgery on my thumb to remove the thorn and it poison. It damaged my tendon just for good measure. I was wearing protective gloves etc when it happened.
      Thanks to the team of surgeons today they succeed to put things right.
      So be very careful.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Our friend has just died from black thorn poisoning..
    Thought it was flu … so please be careful..


  3. To relieve pain. First remove as much of the thorn and detritus as you can. Then hold under hot water (as hot as you can tolerate) until pain diminishes. It is an enzyme on the thorn which causes the pain, heat alters the enzyme much the same as Weaver Fish poison and pain quickly goes. As a Blackthorn stick-maker I get a lot of jabs, and this has always worked for me.


  4. Hi,

    I had a blackthorn puncture two pairs of gloves and embedded deep into my thumb approx 10 weeks ago.

    Since having this happen the end of my thumb has remained cold to the touch and I still have a bruised feeling in my thumb and I can still see what looks like a small black bruise on the pad of my thumb.

    Does anyone have any suggestions what I should do or has anyone had this kind of thing happen to them?


    • I’ve just experienced blackthorne poisoning to my left hand. Extremely painful. I had no idea blackthorne could be dangerous until I read your blog. Having the impression that the toxin produced was alkaline ,I tried as a long shot soaking my hand in vinegar ( acetic acid).To my astonishment it seemed to work! The pained eased within an hour and was completely gone within 24 hours !
      I’d be most interested to know if anyone else has a chance to try this , if it works for them and my recovery was not just a coincidence!!


  5. Yikes – I’ve had part of the spike embedded in my leg for 3 years and still have a lump. After reading this I think I’ll get it removed!!


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