Elephant ear plants contain very small, very sharp calcium oxalate crystals. If you come in contact with these irritating crystals, you could experience a reaction to them.
If you touch the juice of an elephant ear plant, you could experience a burning sensation and swelling on the skin that came in contact with it. While it is more common for children or pets to chew the leaves of the elephant ear, if you do so, your reaction could include pain, difficulty swallowing, and swelling of your mouth and throat.
Removing the irritants the elephant ear plant leaves behind will alleviate the reaction you experience. Rinsing your skin with warm water, then lathering it with gentle soap and rinsing once more will help. Rinsing out your mouth to remove all plant material will stop your reaction to it from worsening. Cool food like ice cream or apple sauce will help relieve your discomfort.
Hydrocortisone cream can help relieve skin irritation and inflammation. If your reaction to touching the elephant ear plant gets worse, or if you experience difficulty breathing, go to the emergency room immediately, recommends the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Kay Wagers is a copywriter in Arizona and has worked for over five years for clients in a wide variety of industries. Wagers has contributed pieces to several fiction magazines and holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and in history from the University of Arizona.