Ways & How

How to Treat Poison Sumac

How to Treat Poison Sumac

If you love going to the woods, you might have encountered a plant known as poison sumac. Although less known than its family members, poison oak and poison ivy, poison sumac causes the same type of allergic dermatitis they do. All three plants contain urishiol, an oil that causes an allergic rash within hours, days, or weeks of exposure. You need to know how to treat poison sumac if there is a chance that you will be exposed to the plant. Here are some ways to do that:

  1. Wear protective gear while trying to remove poison sumac. It is enough that part of your skin has been exposed to this plant. Protect the rest of your skin by wearing long pants, long sleeves, goggles, and vinyl or leather gloves. Tie your hair back as well.

  2. Clean your skin and all your clothes and things. Not only does urishiol stick to your skin, but it can also stick to your clothes and equipment. That is why you should pay special attention to your skin, and to the clothes and equipment you have during the time of exposure.

    You might treat your skin rashes, only to find yourself being re-exposed by your clothes. Soak your clothes in anti-urishiol treatments, and wash them in very hot water. Rub the surfaces of your equipment thoroughly.

  3. Do not scratch or break your blisters. Even though you might find the overwhelming itch from urishiol hard to resist, you must refrain from scratching. Scratching will spread the oil to your skin and make the itch worse. Also, breaking the blisters might result in infection. Scarring may also result. As a rule, try not to touch the affected area. This will help minimize the worsening or spread of any problems.

  4. Apply medication for poison sumac. There are many ointments designed to counteract the urishiol from poison sumac. You can buy them from your local pharmacy. If you want a homemade treatment, you can mix a colloidal oatmeal bath with lukewarm water. Also, apply a small amount of rubbing alcohol. For the itch, you may use calamine lotion. Apply these treatments, not just on the itchy areas, but also on the surrounding areas. Sometimes poison sumac symptoms are not fully evident until several hours after exposure.

  5. Apply a cold compress. To prevent your skin from drying, apply a cold compress on the affected areas. Soak a washcloth in very cold water, and wrap it around ice. Apply it to the affected area, holding it there for around 10 minutes. This is the best treatment if there are no alternatives immediately available.

  6. Take antihistamines. To prevent further allergic reactions, you can take antihistamines topically or orally. They provide mild relief from the effects of poison sumac.

Like most people say, prevention is better than cure. That is why it is miles better to prevent contact with poison sumac than to go out of your way to treat the problems that result from it. Learning what poison sumac, poison ivy, and poison oak look like is the first step in preventing contact with them. Also, make sure to cover your skin when going into the forest. Ultimately, though, it is important to know how to treat poison sumac. That way, you can be sure to act appropriately in times of need.


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