My Puffy Face... Allergic Reaction to Bloodwood

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Blog entry by Blake posted 01-04-2009 11:04 PM 27968 reads 2 times favorited 26 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I had been working on my Gun Cleaning Box for about a month leading up to Christmas. My wife kept asking me why I was scratching my arms, face and neck during that time but I couldn’t put a finger on the cause. The scratching started out very slowly and was never bad enough for me to even think about it too much.

I finished the box before Christmas and haven’t been in the shop for over a week. Then the other day I went out there for about half an hour to work on a small project for my house after work. After using my bandsaw I flipped on my Jet air cleaner like I usually do.

That night I started scratching the back of my neck and couldn’t stop. I kept thinking ‘I should stop scratching’ but I was half-asleep and couldn’t control my self.

This is how I looked when I woke up the next morning. What you can’t see is the back of my neck, which looked like hamburger meat after all the scratching. You can see my swollen face, puffy eyes and red-speckled neck:

Well it turns out that the same friend that I made the box for gave me a book for Christmas called Wood Identification and Use. It covers 400 species of wood, characteristics, use, and HAZARDS.

Under “Bloodwood” it lists possible hazards: ”Causes Dermatitis” (Irritation of the skin)

This is a GREAT book. I highly recommend reading it BEFORE your next project:

The thing about skin allergies is that they often do not cause a major reaction until the secondary exposure. The first time you are exposed your body doesn’t know what it is. During a later exposure your body will recognize it and fight back (hence the reaction).

I think what did it was turning on the Jet air filter, which would have been filled with microscopic Bloodwood particles. It didn’t take much landing on my skin and face and I blew up like a puffer fish.

Well, now I know. I won’t be using Bloodwood any time soon and I wouldn’t recommend it either. I’m slowly getting over it but I am still itchy and a little puffy, almost a week after I took the above photo.

The thing that sucks the most is that now my shop is pretty much under QUARANTINE. I don’t even want to go in there. But is is a mess from the last project, with red sawdust everywhere. I don’t know what I am going to do about it. I have to get every single spec of Bloodwood out of there before it will be safe to work.

By the way Bloodwood looks like this:
Click for details

-- Happy woodworking!

26 comments so far

View lew's profile


12860 posts in 4264 days

#1 posted 01-04-2009 11:15 PM


Glad it wasn’t any worse!

Thanks for the heads up on the book, too.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Zuki's profile


1404 posts in 4586 days

#2 posted 01-04-2009 11:16 PM

OMG. Im glad you are ok Blake.

I guess for the cleanup you will probably need a set of Tyvec (white) coveralls with a hood and some sort of personal air filtration just so you can get in the shop.

-- BLOG -

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1141 posts in 4500 days

#3 posted 01-04-2009 11:31 PM

Woah, that’s awful, get a cheap hazmat when you do the cleanup

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

View Woodshopfreak's profile


389 posts in 4251 days

#4 posted 01-05-2009 12:02 AM

You could get one of those positive pressure masks and the coveralls to clean up your shop. That must suck. Bloodwood looks so good too :(

-- Tyler, Illinois

View majeagle1's profile


1426 posts in 4005 days

#5 posted 01-05-2009 12:06 AM

Wow, what a bummer….. glad your’e o.k and that it wasn’t worse.
I have that book and it is absolutely a wonderful reference. Good lluck on the cleanup.
I have used bloodwood before a few times but have had no reaction to it (yet). Seeing you
sure makes me a little leary of using it now. I sure will make sure that I have all the protection
on / around me that I can if I do use it again.

Take Care…..........

-- Gene, Majestic Eagle Woodworks,,

View Woodhacker's profile


1139 posts in 4232 days

#6 posted 01-05-2009 12:17 AM

Wow, Blake. I’m sorry to hear this. I often have had mild reactions to purpleheart & cocobolo, but nothing that comes close to this. Good Luck with your shop clean up & I hope your reaction subsides quickly.

Let us know how things are going.

-- Martin, Kansas

View Karson's profile


35201 posts in 4909 days

#7 posted 01-05-2009 12:41 AM

Blake I had a similiar reaction to Cocobolo. First time I made a pen, no problem. Second pen a little problem. Then I made a clock and the base was Cocobolo. I had like poison Ivy all over my arms, neck.

Click for details

I’ve never noticed bloodwood doing it to me but the only thing I’ve done was an order for 15 pens. But no problem.

I guess everyone’s systems are a little different. Or the wood is different, depending upon the tree.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View jbrinkman's profile


33 posts in 3951 days

#8 posted 01-05-2009 01:04 AM

I had a similar reaction to an Amboyna burl bowl I created a year ago. You can see what it did to me on my other blog.

I wasn’t able to work for almost a week while my hands healed.

-- Joe Brinkman, California -

View oldskoolmodder's profile


801 posts in 4189 days

#9 posted 01-05-2009 01:08 AM

Thanks for the heads up. Gotta stink having the itches all the time like that.

I was gonna suggest the hazmat/tyvek suit as well when cleaning up, as well. After following the link, I saw a cool little amber warning lamp, that you might want to buy too. :)

-- Respect your shop tools and they will respect you - Ric

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 4277 days

#10 posted 01-05-2009 01:41 AM

that stinks. right now i think i have an allergic reaction for paduak. i’ve been working with it and i have been scratching a lot. it stinks but sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4182 days

#11 posted 01-05-2009 01:49 AM

Glad you is ok Blake!

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4669 days

#12 posted 01-05-2009 01:56 AM

how horrible.

definitely wear lots of protection (and/or seek some help) to clear out your shop. That’s horrible.
I’m glad you found out what the cause was so you can prevent another occurrence.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Jimthecarver's profile


1124 posts in 4294 days

#13 posted 01-05-2009 06:41 AM

Dammit!......I have felt your pain a few times. I now have that book and look at it everytime before I start to use an unfamilar wood.
Hope you get better soon.

-- Can't never could do anything, to try is to advance.

View Bill Akins's profile

Bill Akins

425 posts in 4207 days

#14 posted 01-05-2009 02:09 PM

Sorry about that man, get well soon. I think you have given us all an eye opener.

-- Bill from Lithia Springs, GA I love the smell of sawdust in the morning.

View Steelmum's profile


355 posts in 4471 days

#15 posted 01-05-2009 03:29 PM

Allergy cream or pills might help. You should get someone to help you sweep up.

-- Berta in NC

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