MUNDANE MYSTERIES: Why Grass Makes You Itch

If you’ve ever slid across your lawn while throwing a ball or frisbee around, you know grass can be unforgiving. It may look harmless, but blades of grass can be abrasive on your skin & cause burning or itching that isn’t too fun. But you don’t have to hit the ground hard, grass can make you itch even if you’re just kicking back on it. You may be trying to take in nature, but nature apparently wants you to relocate elsewhere. Why is grass treat like that? How can something that looks so inviting & harmless be so uncomfortable?

While grass can look & feel soft, it can actually cause micro-abrasions on your skin. The edges of the grass itself may even damage skin, but there’s another factor on their surface. While they’re not visible to the naked eye, blades of grass are covered in tiny hairs known as trichomes that can cause skin irritation. Trichomes help make grass & other plants unappetizing to animals. (Because, when you can’t move, it helps to have other means of defense.) While not generally harmful, the tiny cuts allow sweat to seep into the tissue, which makes for literal salt on your wound that creates a stinging sensation.

Grass is also covered by a decent dose of pollen, both its own & from neighboring plant life. And, if you have pollen allergies, that can produce itching & irritation that can be especially bothersome once those trichomes damage your skin.

Sometimes, though, it isn’t the grass itself but what lives in & on the grass. Mites, fleas, and other bugs can live there, and their bites can cause an allergic reaction.

Fortunately, you can help yourself avoid the itching & burning. Wear pants instead of shorts if you know you’re going to be sitting in or on grass. If pollen is an irritant for you, check the pollen count before spending time outdoors & wash your clothes once you’re inside. Just don’t expect grass to be entirely hospitable to your bare skin. I mean, they are called blades of grass for a reason.

Got a Mundane Mystery you’d like solved? Send me a message via social media (@AndyWebbRadioVoice), or shoot me an email at [email protected].

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