「漆かぶれ」 Lacquer “Urushi” rash




Some people may avoid lacquer Urushi and lacquer ware because they cause “skin irritation”.

However, if the lacquer Urushi is dry, the skin will not get irritated. And once dried, lacquer Urushi never returns to a liquid state.

If you understand lacquer Urushi correctly and face it, you will be able to fully enjoy the charm and efficacy of lacquer Urushi.

漆かぶれの犯人 Identity of lacquer rash






Before I learned lacquer ware, I had lacquer ware in my house, but of course it was dry so I never got a rash. Therefore, I had a rash for the first time in school without any fear of rash.The culprit of the rash is Urushiol, which is the raw sap of lacquer Urushi, which was often mentioned in the previous post. When this urushiol touches the skin, it reacts with proteins in human skin and causes a rash.

The lacquer Urushi liquid contains about 70% of urushiol.

A rash can occur even with very small amounts of urushiol, 0.01~0.001%.

On rare occasions, there are people who get a rash with new lacquer ware, the smell of lacquer, and the air, but it seems that this ultratrace amount of urushiol floats in the air and reacts like pollinosis.

For those who are worried about lacquer ware , if you do not use a new one immediately and put it in a rice bowl for about a week, the odor will disappear, the lacquer ware will dry well, and you will not have to worry about a rash.It is a method that can be used other than lacquer ware.

漆への免疫 Immunity to Urushi


The degree of rash depends on the individual, but lacquer Urushi rash gradually immunizes.I use less now, so I don’t get a rash anymore.Sometimes when I’m tired, I get a little rash, but if get a little on my hand, I don’t care anymore.


私の通った京都の学校では、蒔絵科であっても 木地の状態から長い下地作業、塗り、加飾の蒔絵まで一通りの工程を学びます。1年生の時から生漆という生の漆の樹液をたっぷり使って作業をするので、ウルシオールの接触機会が多く、もちろんかぶれます。最初は漆が付かないように注意しているのですが、使う量も多いので気がつかないうちに付いていることも多々ありました。

I would like to look back on my life with lacquer Urushi rash at school and write it down.

At the school in Kyoto that I attended, even in the Maki-e department, you will learn the whole process from the condition of the wood to the long groundwork, painting, and lacquer work for decoration,Maki-e. Since I’ve been working with plenty of raw lacquer sap since I was in the first grade, I have many opportunities to come into contact with Urushiol, and of course I get a rash.At first, I was careful not to get lacquer on it, but since I used a lot of it, I often got it on without noticing it.

漆が付いた時・かぶれの対処法 When lacquer is attached ・ How to deal with rash

→→→ その付いてしまった部分にオリーブ油やサラダ油などの食用油で漆を溶かして、その後石けんで洗うのが対処法です。

*If lacquer Urushi gets on...
→→→ Dissolve the lacquer in cooking oil such as olive oil or salad oil, and then wash with soap.
かぶれに関しては色んな方法があるようです ↓↓↓(参考文献より)
There seem to be various ways to deal with rashes.
↓↓↓(from references)

・沢蟹の汁を塗る Apply with Sawa crab juice
・海水浴に行く Go to the beach
  Cover the rash with a cloth soaked in salt water
  Decoction and wash willow, cedar leaves, perilla leaves and stuffed grass
  Wash with a decoction containing chestnut leaves and Japanese pepper fruits in equal parts.
  Add 2 go of water to a glass of Japanese pepper, decoct over low heat, simmer to half the amount, and steam the rash with this broth, which is affective enough to heal in a few days.

There is no scientific basis, but it seems that people in the old days have passed down the legend.


Lacquer rash does not cause much symptoms that day.After a day or two, or later for some people , the skin becomes red and itchy.Arms and face area are especially susceptible to rashes than palms.


I dealt with it by chilling it so that it wouldn’t hurt as much as possible.In addition, I applied a steroid-based ointment called Full Coat, which is an over-the-counter drug, to surpass it.Even so, when my face was swollen, I went to a dermatologist.If you go to a dermatologist and find out about lacquer Urushi, you can prescribe a medicine to drink and an ointment.


I remember that taking the medicines and antibiotics that I got from a dermatologist helped me to get rid of itching at once.If the symptoms are severe, blisters may form or may spread throughout the body.I also had blisters at the worst time.I had a rash on my arm, so it became red and hot, and it was hard to raise and lower it, but I think I got immunity before it reached the whole body. I recommend that you go to a dermatologist as soon as possible.




In addition, steroid-based ointments are effective at first, but as they continue to be used, they gradually become ineffective and are not persistent.Therefore, it is advisable to go to a dermatologist frequently for consultation.

If you continue to have a rash like this, you will gradually become more resistant and the degree of rash will become lighter.

In addition, lacquer rash does not leave a mark, so it heals naturally.


I has a rash for almost two years for some reason.I felt that my hands were numb due to the sharpening juice that came out when I sharpened, and when I had a rash, I couldn’t take a bath for a long time.When I drink alcohol, my body gets hot and I get a rash, so after experiencing the anguish, I quit drinking.


Some of my classmates had a rash all over their bodies and it was difficult to raise their arms and use their hands, and some of them were absent from school for a while, so the degree of rash is really different for each person.


However, the feeling of exhilaration when it became shiny with the final luster of black lacquer was blown away by the pain of a rash.


When I experienced lacquering during off-campus training at school, when I realized that I was really receiving a drop of tree blood, I thanked nature and the blessings of the lacquer tree Urushi, and the rash is a trial,I thought.I also had the experience of licking the transparent sap that first appeared the moment I scratched the lacquer tree, but this sap is sweet and does not get a rash.

漆かぶれの治療薬 Remedy for lacquer urushi rash



Lacquer urushi art has a long history, but there is no medicine for lacquer rash.

However, a Columbia University treatise has published a successful example of an animal experiment that uses low concentrations of urushiol to ensure immunity to urushiol.However, it has not been adopted by people.It may be realized when the demand for lacquer and the population increase, or when the effect of lacquer is utilized in other fields.

ウルシオール耐性確保のための風習 Customs for ensuring urushiol resistance

It is also introduced that there were various customs to get used to and tolerate lacquer rash.(Mainly eating customs)

(韓国 in Korea)
・料理に使う Used for cooking
Ottatan:Food made by boiling silkie meat and lacquer branches together 
Ossangetan:Young chichken soup with lacquer
Efficacy:Blood circulation promotion/Liver function recovery/Tonic effect

(日本 in Japan)
・ウルシの新芽、若葉 →→→ 天ぷら、味噌汁の具にして食べる
 Sprouts of Urushi, young leaves →→→ Eat as an ingredient in tempura and miso soup
・ウルシの花から採れた蜂蜜を食べる Eat honey from Urushi flowers
・ウルシの花や若葉をアルコールに浸してリキュールにして飲む ★肝臓強壮効果
  Soak lacquer urushi flowers and young leaves in alcohol to make liqueur and drink ★Liver tonic effect

It's a very simple way to get the Urushi into your body and immunize it.

I don't think this method is just for resistance to urushi, but it is also drunk as coffee by roasting urushi fruits.It was used as a coffee substitute during war. 

There was also a legend that it would be good to let the baby lick the lacquer urushi as soon as he was born so that he could grow up well.


I don’t get a rash anymore, but I don’t get a rash on lacquer refined for lacquer art, but I get a rash on the sap of the plant Urushi tree.After touching a broken branch with my bare hands I didn’t feel it attached at that time, but after a while after I got home, there was a sap and I got a rash.The condition of itching is very strong, which is different from refined lacquer.


There is a lacquer tree in Iwate where my grandfather lives.In Iwate “get a rash” in Japanese is called “losing”in a dialect.My grandfather repeatedly said, “Don’t approach because you’re going to lose”, and I wondered, “Who will I lose?”.I thought that my grandfather took the characteristics of the plant urushi very seriously.


Nowadays, due to the wisdom of our predecessors and advances in medicine, we know how to deal with it without a special medicine, but I think that the people who found and used lacquer during the Jomon period in Japan suffered a considerable rash.


I am grateful for the history of lacquer Urushi accumulated by the ancients and hope that it will be understood correctly.

参考文献 References

  • 松田権六『うるしの話』.岩波文庫,1964
  • 藤澤保子『図説 日本の文化をさぐる うるしの文化』.小峰書店,2003
  • 三田村有純『漆とジャパン 美の謎を追う』.里文出版,2005
  • 安倍郁三/伊藤清三/中山修三/六角大壌『漆芸入門 うるし工芸の美』.光芸出版,1972
  • 熊野谿從『漆のお話 21世紀を支える夢の物質』.文芸社,2012
  • 宮腰哲雄『漆学 植生、文化から有機化学まで』.丸善出版,2016
  • 山本勝巳『漆百科』.丸善株式会社,2008
  • 山岸寿治『漆よもやま話』.雄山閣,1996
  • 冬木偉沙夫『漆芸の旅』.芸艸堂,1986
  • 北國新聞社編集局編『漆はジャパンである』,2008


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