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Protect yourself from poisonous plants

Poisonous Plants

Did you know that poison ivy is among the leading causes of skin rashes in children and adults? If you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors this summer, it’s necessary to know the facts to stay safe. Let’s start with the basics.

Plants to avoid:

How to protect yourself from poisonous plants | UPMCMyHealthMatters.com

Poison ivy, oak, and sumac are poisonous plants that typically grow in the form of a vine.

Poison ivy has three leaves that are spoon shaped and can grow in a vine or as a shrub.

Poison oak has leaves in clusters of three and up to seven that typically look like oak leaves. It can be found in a vine or shrub form.

Poison sumac has seven to thirteen leaves per each stem and has pointed tips with smooth edges. This plant can be found in the form of a small tree or shrub in wooded swampy areas.

Why these plants are dangerous:

They can cause an allergic reaction, usually when a person is exposed to the oils on the plants. Contact includes being exposed to the steams, flowers, roots, and the plant itself. Symptoms start to develop over several days, and may last one to three weeks depending upon severity.

How to prevent exposure:

  • When exposed to the plant, wash all areas with soap and water immediately.
  • Wash any clothing that may have come in contact with the plant.
  • Avoid the area where you encountered the plants, and warn others.
  • Wear long sleeves and shoes to avoid accidental exposure when in wooded areas.

Symptoms to look for:

  • Red itchy rash
  • Hives or small red bumps
  • Blisters filled with fluid
  • Swelling of the exposed areas

How to treat symptoms:

  • Contact your health care professional if this is your first diagnosis or if the rash covers a large part of the body.
  • Do not scratch the rash; it could lead to infection.
  • Use calamine lotion or other recommended lotions for relief.

While out enjoying the great outdoors, stay clear of the triple threat: poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. Knowing how to identify these plants will save you from an uncomfortable encounter!