Skin rashes: Is milk thistle a possible trigger?

Milk thistle is known to trigger skin rashes such as hives, eczema and pruritus. Even though not clearly proven, milk thistle is commonly utilized to treat diabetes, toxicity, cancer and alcohol-related hepatitis.

If an individual opts to utilize milk thistle as a form of treatment for any medical condition, a doctor should always be consulted first. Always bear in mind that milk thistle has not been assessed by the FDA and must be used carefully. The typical skin rashes that develop after using milk thistle can be described as a minor skin reaction.

What are the possible causes?

The skin rashes from milk thistle are due to the presence of IgE antibodies that increases the level of histamine in the skin. Once the herb is ingested, the immune system reacts to the substance as if it is a threat and starts to defend itself.

The body produces IgE antibodies that fight off the herb. The antibodies also cause the mast cells in the skin to generate histamine which is the chemical responsible for causing irritation and inflammation.

Skin rashes

The skin rashes from milk thistle are due to the presence of IgE antibodies that increases the level of histamine in the skin.

Hives and pruritus

The precise cause of hives is still unknown but the presence of histamine can instigate the development of the rash. These skin rashes are relatively harmless but can cause annoying itchiness and discomfort. The rash develops in varying sizes and shapes in groups of welts that have defined perimeters.

As for pruritus, it is a medical term used to describe itchy skin. In most cases, an individual can experience generalized itchiness after using milk thistle.


Eczema is a lingering skin condition that typically affects young children but can also occur among adults throughout life. This condition involves hypersensitivity of the skin that triggers the formation of blisters particularly on the face, arms and behind the legs.

The blisters can be filled with fluid that weep and crust over. Over time, eczema can cause the formation of dry, leathery and scaly patches that crack which leaves the skin prone to secondary infections.


If an individual develops skin rashes after ingesting milk thistle, it is vital to stop and set an appointment with a doctor. The allergic skin rashes can be managed with over-the-counter hydrocortisone to reduce the itchiness and inflammation.

In severe cases, the doctor might recommend corticosteroid creams to help calm the skin. In addition, you can apply a cold compress on the affected area to minimize the itchiness.

Other possible reactions to milk thistle

Aside from skin rashes, there are also other adverse reactions that can occur if milk thistle is used. The other symptoms include bloating, abdominal pain, changes in the bowel habits, diarrhea, nausea, headache and even impotence.


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