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Skin Care

Plant Rashes
By Dermik Laboratories
Jun 30, 2003, 22:49

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Keywords: plant rashes, poison ivy, topical steroids, rhus dermatitis

How are rashes from plants treated?

Mild rashes may be treated with non-prescription preparations, but hydrocortisone creams are usually ineffective. If the reaction is severe, your doctor may prescribe a corticosteroid drug.

 

Click here for information about Dermik products which can be used to treat plant rashes.

Poison ivy, oak, and sumac are among the most common skin rashes seen in a physician's office. Allergic reactions from these plants will affect millions of Americans every year. These rashes are most commonly caused by contact with the plant's colorless or yellowish oil, called urushiol (u-roo-she-ol). The plant oil is released when the plant stem or leaves are cut or crushed. The plant oil is invisible and sticky and may be carried on garden tools, on pet's fur, or in the smoke of a burning plant.

 

POISON IVY

A climbing vine with three serrated-edge, pointed leaves grows in the East, Midwest and South. In the northern and western states, poison ivy grows as a non-climbing shrub.

 

POISON OAK

Poison oak also has three leaves. It grows in the sandy soil of the Southeast as a small shrub. In the western United States poison oak is a very large plant which grows as a standing shrub or climbing vine.

 

POISON SUMAC

A shrub or bush with two rows of 7 - 13 leaflets; most common in the peat bogs of the Northern United States and in swampy Southern regions of the country.

Who is affected?

Researchers have found that 85% of the population will develop an allergic reaction if exposed to poison ivy. Sensitivity seems to develop over several exposures, usually during childhood, and tends to decrease as individuals reach their thirties. About 10% of the population will have severe reactions, and an equal number of people will not be sensitive at all.


What are the symptoms of plant rashes?

The rash can affect any part of the body but the commonly affected areas are the hands, forearms and face. Once the plant oil touches the skin, it begins to penetrate in a matter of minutes. The rash appears as a line within 12-48 hours after exposure to the plant oil. Redness and swelling are followed by blisters and severe itching; within a few days the blisters become crusted and scaly. The rash will heal in about ten days.


How can I prevent plant rashes?

The most common way to get a rash from a poisonous plant is to come in contact with the plant oil. Once you have the rash it cannot be spread to other parts of your body or to another person by touching the blisters or the fluid. The rash is spread by the plant oil on the hands, for example, wiping the forehead with the hand.

Learn to recognize and avoid the plant. If you find the plant growing in your yard, use gloves to pull it up by the roots, and discard the plant carefully, then discard or wash the gloves. When walking through wooded areas, wear long pants and long sleeves.

Brushing up against the plant's leaves seldom results in breaking out in a rash because the plant's oil is not released unless the stem or leaf surface is broken. However, if you are exposed to the plant oil, wash the affected area with cold water as soon as possible. Carefully remove all exposed clothing and wash it. Wash off all camping and sporting gear as well, if there is a chance that it has been contaminated.

This article is taken from Dermik Laboratories Website, used with permission.




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The medical information provided in this site is for educational purposes only.  Any topic discussed in this article is not intended as medical advice. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice and shall not create a physician - patient relationship. Consult a dermatologist, if you have a specific question or concern about a skin lesion or disease.
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