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Nasty film on my hands after cutting butternut squash

Hi all,

I cut up some butternut squash earlier today, and since cutting it my fingers are coated with a yellowish film that refuses to come off in whole. I've been able to scrub off little bits and pieces with a lot of force, and have also tried vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, nailpolish remover, and rubbing alcohol, all to no avail. The film feels similar to getting superglue stuck on your hands -- kind of a thin, hard, and very annoying shell -- which is why I thought of the nailpolish remover (acetone dissolves superglue).

In the future I'll use gloves when I'm cutting these up, but in the meantime does anyone have any idea how to remove this stuff from my hands? It's certainly not an emergency or causing me any real trouble aside from the annoyance factor, but I would rather not have to wait days for it to wear off like with superglue...


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  1. Wow, out of curiousity I googled "butternut squash residue on hands", since I have a large squash waiting to turn into soup so I'll be peeling away soon. It sounds like it is a pretty common condition. Lots of people get contact dermatitis when they handle it. In my wanderings, I came across this old thread.


    and another squash reaction:


    It's hard to say if you have squash residue on your hands, or you have had a mild reaction to the squash.

    Good luck. Keep us squash-lovers posted!

    1 Reply
    1. re: bear

      I was the one who started that first post bear linked to (above). It's weird for sure. I have no idea whether it's an individual reaction or something in the squash itself. I probably get it exactly the same way that you do. Yucky but I still love butternut squash.

    2. Double wow. I wonder how that would work as a face peel. I've heard that they use pumpkin.

      Be careful with the gloves, get ones you can grip with. Even Rubbbermaid, in case it slips. I almost lost a hand last time.

      1. You're not crazy. That's happened to me too. And it isn't a reaction, it's like davis says... it's a really weird film -- though I don't believe I've ever gotten it as badly as you :-)

        1. I know what you mean. It's like tree sap. What works for me is rubbing my hands together. It comes off eventually if you rub fast and hard enough.

          1. some pharma or adhesives/film co. should be investigating the film's properties for commercial development. we want in on licensing royalties, right hounds?!

            1. This happens to me every time I cut up butternut squash. I usually just scrub with a scrubber sponge until most of it has come off, and then try to live with the rest for a day or so. I've noticed that it takes off a few of the top layers of skin (much like a chemical peel or strong exfoliation) wherever it has adhered to my skin. If it was really severe I'd resort to wearing gloves.

              1. Have you tried olive oil? I have found oil to help with a lot of sticky things instead of more solvent-like things. Or maybe mineral oil.

                1. Thanks for the replies, everyone! Alas, I got a bit busy after posting and didn't get a chance to come back and check the responses; the stuff eventually just wore off (although it was pretty bad for a full day or so).

                  Badifat: Yes, I did try olive oil, in a manner of speaking; after chopping the squash the next thing I did with it was to toss it in olive oil (followed by salt, pepper, and chipotle powder, then onto a sheet pan and into a 425 degree oven until nice and crispy, but I digress). Alas, no luck there.

                  Alkapal: I'm not sure why a pharma company would want this film... Perhaps a defense contractor could come up with a better use case!

                  1. Yep, it happens to me every time I do anything with butternut squash and sometimes even zucchini.

                    It eventually wears off throughout the day. But it's a pain for sure.

                    1. I had a bad reaction when I cut up about 30 of them at work. It was so horrible, my skin was peeling off in sheets. I'm now loathe to even go near one, and I'll wear gloves next time for sure.

                      1. thank you thank you to everyone who posted
                        their weird skin reactions while chopping up
                        Butternut squash - i thought something permanent
                        and bizzare was going on. I feel much much bettet
                        now knowing i am not alone and that it is somewhat
                        normal. Just have to wait for my hand to return to
                        normal (note to self: do not peel butternut squash
                        just prior to important event that involves showing
                        my hands!!!)

                        1. You guys are correct. This is NOT a reaction. It happens with summer squash and cucumbers too. Try cutting up enough to make pickles or anything else. I even tried emailing Martha Stewart and got no answer at all. I tried picking small bits off with tweezers and it was terrible! I even got a steel wool pad and tried scrubbing it off to no avail. I also had to wear it off. Sigh.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: VictoriasViolets

                            This has happened to me with all gourds, be it pumpkin, squashes or even simple zucchini. I've experienced harsher reactions with some Caribbean root vegetables, such as taro, eddoes, yams, etc. I will use gloves in the future. I'm prone to contact dermatitis, so these residues can make me quite itchy. I have had some luck using baking soda, sprinkled liberally on wet hands. Rub together to create friction, then rinse and repeat as necessary.

                            1. re: 1sweetpea

                              This happened to me! And this was the only hit I got on my search. My experience involved peeling cucumbers (small, pickling kind) that I did not get put up in time. I bought them at a farmers market in Grand Prairie, Texas, near Dallas. When asking the farmer (as an afterthought, actually) if he sprayed, regarding his tomatoes, he answered, "We haven't had to spray the tomatoes yet."

                              My thought was that maybe this was some sort of chemical issue, because my residue had a bit of an odor to that effect. The residue was exactly in the areas of my left hand (I am right-handed) where I held the cucumber as I peeled, so I assume the peel was the issue.

                              I (also) scrubbed and tried all sorts of things, to no avail, but my husband recommended putting some coconut oil on it to possibly soften my skin. I did that just before bed, and in the morning, the residue was gone.

                              Not sure I want to eat these cukes, though.

                              I would be interested in any thoughts anyone has.


                              Stephanie in Ennis, Texas

                              1. re: StephMarchbanks

                                I don't think it's anything chemical, e.g. pesticide. Just some combination of natural juices that forms an intense shell. I'm thinking it's probably similar to platelets in blood -- a mechanism used by the plant to quickly seal up a wound. Makes sense that this would be released when we start chopping things up. Just an idea, but it's the best one I've had to date. Where's a botanist when you need one?!?

                                1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                  Interesting. But the strange thing is that my film only formed where I touched the actual peel...

                                  1. re: StephMarchbanks

                                    Not a chemical. It's the internal sap of the squash.

                                    I grow zucchini and squash organically and experience this 'film' all the time when processing, shredding, or cutting. Even when harvesting, if I happen to clip one and put a small nick in it when cutting it off the plant, by the time I get it inside the house, there's a clear sap that oozes out and protects the damaged 'nicked' area.

                                    No worries, but it can be a pain to get off your hands.

                                    1. re: Novelli

                                      Thanks! That's good to know. I posted elsewhere that using coconut oil on my hand before bed seemed to have it cleared by morning.

                                      I will happily eat my cukes. Kudos to you for your organic growing. I usually buy only organics.



                          2. Came across this post today as i was looking for a way to get the stuff off my hands. No help on the web, but an old man suggested lemon juice / Vinegar since it works for removing paint :D and it works! Just rub your hand with lemon, add some warm water, and the stuff can be scraped off with your nails :D

                            1. I just found this after googling as well. This has happened several times and I have no idea why. It only happens when handling a butternut squash. Never pumpkin, zucchini, acorn squash, or any other kind...

                              It's just like the elmer's glue film from playing with glue when I was a kid, except NOT so easy to get off! I read where it can be contact dermatitis because some people are sensitive, but this is not dermatitis, no itching, pain, rash, etc.... just a film that is not easy to get off.

                              I have tried washing, scrubbing, oil, lemon, lemon juice, white vinegar, ACV, lotion, lotion soap, etc.... nothing works for me other than time, at least not that I have found yet!

                              I agree with previous posts about possibly being a good facial, except I'm afraid I would have to do it on Friday night and not leave the house until Sunday LOL.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: tammyu

                                Packing tape!! I had this film on my hand as well, the Elmer's glue comparison was pretty dead on. I first tried the lemon thing (after much scrubbing) and when I finally gave up, I picked up the sticker from the squash that I had irresponsibly stuck to the countertop...part of it stuck so I took the sticker and used it to pull the piece off the counter and a lightbulb turned on! Several small pieces of packing tape later and I had removed most, probably 90% of the film. It seemed to work best when my hands were still slightly damp from washing them. My hands were still dry but I just put some lotion on and I feel pretty much back to normal! I hope this helps someone, and also I feel sort of like a genius right now. :)

                                1. re: jaimeboz

                                  You are a genius!! I just found this thread because I had the dreaded butternut residue all over my hands. The packing tape totally worked and I am eternally grateful. You are so clever!

                              2. I had some success with the baking soda trick. it helps soften and exfoliate that squash juice skin you get on your hands...still tough to get it off but at least it makes it possible.

                                1. Cellotape - several pieces will do the trick

                                  1. I just thought I was going insane when I was cutting zucchini! Same exact reaction!!!! Wow! As I'm typing, my hands are awful! I guess I'll try baking soda! Glad I'm not alone!