Poison Plants – Ivy, Oak, Sumac

by SKHC Editor on May 20, 2009

What allergen is found in poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac plants? If you guessed urushiol, you’re right. Urushiol, a rash-causing substance, is colorless and has odorless oil (called resin) that is contained in the leaves of these plants.

Not everyone suffers an allergic reaction to usuhiol but about 60% to 80% of people do. A reaction could be a rash, causing itching, burning or blistering, and sometimes swelling. A reaction to urushiol could appear within hours of contact or up to five days later.

Mild rashes may be treated at home with calamine lotion, oral antihistamine, cold compresses and good old soap and water. However, if the rash covers a large portion of the body, or is on the genitals or the face, getting worse despite home remedies or looks to be infected (symptoms getting worse, pus) it’s time to seek medical attention.

Poison ivy can grow anywhere and is not always the easiest to indentify. The green leaves of poison plants often blend right in with other plants and brush. Not only is poison ivy deceiving to the eyes it’s possible to suffer a rash without even directly touching a plant. Uroshiol is transferable from person to person and you can even get it from your pet. The leaves of poison ivy are sensitive. Whether they’re bumped, torn, brushed against, or burned the leaves release urushiol thus making you susceptible.

To lower your chances of suffering a reaction to poison ivy, oak or sumac learn to identify what they look like (if the leaves look shiny, steer clear) so you can avoid those areas. Out on an afternoon hike? Wear long sleeves and pants. Did you take your beloved pet on that hike? Give ‘em a good shower to wash anything off they have come in contact with. No one wants the itchy scratchies.

Print a Poison Ivy/Oak/Sumac Instruction Sheet from KidsHealth.org to keep handy.

Poison Ivy Rash

Source: KidsHealth.org

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