Hidden Dangers From Poison Oak, Ivy & Sumac Plants

According to the American
Academy of Dermatology, each year 10 to 50
million Americans develop an allergic rash
after contact with Poison Oak, Poison Ivy
and Poison Sumac Plants. The invisible oily
resin called urushiol causes the ill
effects of these poisonous plants.

Poison ivy, oak, or sumac is found in every
state except Alaska and Hawaii. These
plants are important to the eco-systems
where they thrive. The small, white or
bluish berries found on the ivies feed a
number of birds and small animals. The
irritants found in urushiol oil do not
effect most animals and the tangles from
the plants serve as shelter.

This oily resin can stay on pets, shoes,
hiking boots, clothes, toys, garden tools,
lawn mowers and anything else that has made
contact. In fact, the oil stays active on
any surface, including dead plants, for up
to 5 years.


After making contact, the reaction (called
dermatitis) may include a rash followed by
bumps and blisters that itch. Scratching
does not spread the outbreak but may cause
infection because it allows bacteria from
dirt on the hands to enter the skin.
Symptoms can last ten days to several weeks
to heal.

Mild Symptoms

* Severe redness
* Signs of infection, such as pus
* Rash in mouth, eyes, or genital area
* Rash on a large portion of your body or face
* Mild symptoms can be treated with simple and natural home
remedies. See below.

Severe Symptoms

* Swelling of the throat, tongue, or lips
* Difficulty breathing or swallowing
* Weakness or dizziness
* Bluish lips and/or mouth
* Unconsciousness
* Severe Symptoms need immediate emergency medical care.


NEVER burn poison ivy. Burning these poisonous plants puts
the urushiol resin in the air and can get in your lungs and
possibly your neighbor’s lungs. If you get poison ivy in
your lungs, you will need to go to the hospital.

Pet Alert

The only threat to resin on our pets is if it is rubbed off
onto other things or people. If your pet merely has the
bumps and is itching, you can not catch it from them.


Because urushiol is a oily resin and not a water based
fluid, it will not evaporate and it can linger for several

Use mild soap and cold or cool water to wash off the resin.
Do not use hot water because it opens your skin pores and
thus absorb more of the oil.

You may want to apply rubbing alcohol to the affected
area(s) with cotton balls, and then rinse again with cold
water. You can apply calamine lotion, a zinc oxide
ointment, or baking soda paste (3-tsp. soda to 1-tsp.
water) to the affected area(s), or soak in an oatmeal bath,
to relieve the symptoms somewhat.

Generally, the best treatment is time — the rash and
itching should go away on its own in one to two weeks. Try
to keep your hands away from your eyes, mouth, and face,
and scratch as little as possible, as this will irritate
the rash further and may introduce infection.

This article is for general information only and not
intended for or to replace any medical advice. Always check
with your doctor for treatment of any health condition.

About the Author:

Wayne McDonald is a health care professional and public
speaker for safe natural treatments of annoying and
burdensome health challenges. Learn more at


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