Camping is fun, but did you ever come back from a trip with an uncomfortable itchy rash? Since you are spending a lot of time in the woods, odds are that you might be exposed to one of the many toxic plants that can cause your skin to ooze and bubble in an itchy rash.
The most common plants to watch out for are poison ivy, poison sumac, and poison oak. All three have oils that irritate the skin and will cause a painful rash. The problem is that they look so innocent, you ‘d never know the pain these plants could cause just buy looking at them!
Therefore, you need to be aware of them so you can avoid them, if the oils get on your skin or clothing they can spread them to other areas and even other people and since they don’t cause the rash for a couple of days you might not realize it. Plus the oils stay active for quite some time so you can even get a rash from oils that remain on the clothing you wore yesterday!
Poison ivy can be found in most of North America. It is a shrub that can grow to 4 feet, but is mostly seen as a ground cover of 4 to 10 inches. The leaves are an a smooth dark green and have 3 lobes. This toxic plant is seen mostly in the East.
Poison oak likes sandy soils and can be found from New Jersey to Florida as well as the Western US, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Oregon, Nevada and Washington. It has 3 or 5 lobed leaves that usually have a scalloped edge. It bears a fuzzy fruit and the leaves can be wrinkled.
Poison sumac likes swampy areas and produces cream colored berries. It has blueish green leaves that may or may not have red at the tips. It is less commonly seen since it grows in places humans do not frequent but it is more toxic than the other two.
The oils that cause the rash is called urushiol and it can stick to any surface including your shoes, clothing and your skin. Your dog can pick urushiol on his coat and then when you pet him it can be transferred to your skin. It causes a rash that can be very severe and there are few products that produce relief but cortical cream is usually what is recommended.
If you think you have come in contact with one of these toxic plants wash your clothing in hot water and wash your skin with warm soapy water right away. You need to wash the oils off immediately since even 15 minutes after contact the urushiol will have bonded to the skin and the rash is inevitable. Some people get it worse than others and some seem to even be immune to it!