There are no species of cactus that are known to contain poison within their spines.
But that doesn’t mean that getting pricked by a cactus won’t leave you with skin irritation, redness, or possibly even an infection.
Both your skin and the spines of a cactus often contain bacteria which can cause infection when inserted under the skin.
Some cactus spines also contain glochids, tiny barbs that can remain lodged in your skin after the spines have been removed and this can cause a great deal of skin irritation and soreness.
Some other types of cacti, like peyote, produce various compounds that can make you feel unwell if you happen to ingest them.
But the peyote cactus doesn’t contain spines and there’s no known cactus that delivers poison through a spine prick.
How To Prevent Getting Pricked By A Cactus
While you don’t have to be concerned about poisoning as the result of a prick from a cactus spine, you should still take extra precautions so you don’t get stuck.
And to avoid infection or lasting effects, you should take action to care for your wounds if you do find yourself on the receiving end.
First of all, most cactus spines are not as sharp as they first look.
You can brush against them or apply gentle pressure without it resulting in punctures to your skin.
But if you’re heavy-handed with a cactus or bump against it too hard, it can easily result in the spines penetrating your skin.
The best way to protect your hands from the spines is to get yourself a pair of specialist gardening gloves that are made of tightly packed material and can guard against the penetration of spines and thorns.
If you don’t have gloves and need to handle or repot a cactus, a few layers of newspaper between your hands and the spines is usually enough to keep you out of harm’s way.
As a last resort, you could use a pair of tongs or chopsticks to move a cactus but you’ll need to be careful not to squeeze it too hard or you could easily cause damage.
What To Do If You Get Pricked By A Cactus
If you do get poked by a cactus spine, it most likely hasn’t broken off.
If this is the case, you’ll just need to clean the wound thoroughly with soap and water and cover it up with a plaster, if necessary.
If a spine breaks off in your skin, treat it the same as you’d treat a splinter and pull it out gently with a pair of tweezers.
Don’t try to squeeze the broken spine out by pinching the skin with your fingers as this can cause it to fragment even more.
If you end up getting stuck with glochids – the tiny barbs we talked about earlier – these may be a little more unpleasant to deal with.
These can be hard to remove from your skin, and your first instinct may be to scratch them.
Don’t scratch the affected area, this will usually make things worse.
If the tiny barbs work their way in too deep they’ll be out of reach and you will have to wait for the body’s natural response to expel them.
To avoid this, try brushing your dry skin with a piece of soft fabric a few times, without applying pressure.
If this doesn’t work, use sticky tape (duct tape works great.)
Gently press the tape over the affected area and then yank it off with a quick pull.
You can use a magnifying glass to locate any remaining glochids which you can then remove with fine tweezers.
Although you won’t find a deadly cactus with poisonous spines, you’ll still want to avoid getting pricked whenever possible.
Cacti plants are an excellent option for indoor plants, but they are not 100% safe and should definitely be handled with care.
Therefore, it is necessary to take precautions, know how to treat your injury if you do get pricked, and always keep them out of reach of children and pets.