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Get the Facts on Poisonous Plants

As school comes to a close our children will be spending a lot of time outdoors, and the more time they spend outside, the greater the chance that they are eventually going to come into contact with some nasty poisonous plants. Plants like Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Sumac abound here on the east coast and dealing with their presence has become an unfortunate part of daily life. It’s never pleasant to be exposed to irritants and it’s quite possibly worse to see our children dealing with the same discomfort. Luckily, there are a few easy ways to help alleviate these issues through prevention and treatment.

get the facts

An ounce of prevention is worth a gallon of cure.

The first and probably most obvious way to deal with natural irritants is to avoid coming into contact with the irritant at all. First, learn to recognize plants like Poison Ivy, and Poison Oak, which can be easily spotted by remembering the mnemonic device: “Leaves of three, let it be.” Poison Ivy and Poison Oak grow on vines or small shrubs with three leaf clusters which change color seasonally. Sumac, which is harder to recognize grows long stems with anywhere from 7-13 leaves and grow yellowish, off white flowers or yellow berries depending on the time of year. Make note of areas where these plants tend to grow and try to avoid allowing your children into those areas. When your children are going to be spending any significant amount of time in a wooded area, insist that they wear closed toe shoes and pants to avoid skin contact with irritants and wash clothes as soon as possible after contact to avoid transfer.

Alleviation of itching.
Children are going to scratch itching rashes and that can contribute to spreading the irritating oils and even further irritation of the afflicted area. Keeping them from doing so is going to lessen the area of affliction and further improve recovery time. Try these common methods of alleviating itchiness:
– Cold compresses
– Topical application of calamine lotion
– Non-prescription hydrocortisone antihistamines

Treatment
Wash the affected area with warm soapy water to minimize the amount of time the irritant oils have to be in contact with the skin. By minimizing the period of exposure the severity of the reaction can be minimized or even be done away with in its entirety. When coming into contact with afflicted areas or things which have come into contact with poison ivy, wear rubber gloves to avoid secondary contamination.

Know when to seek medical treatment.
If the rash is near the eyes or covers a significant portion of the body you should seek medical attention. Further if your reaction is severe, with blistering or is accompanied by other symptoms associated with severe allergies call 911.