If you’ve ever gone on a camping trip or a long hike, you might already be familiar with those irritating plants known as poison ivy and poison oak. These plants cause allergic reactions on most people’s skin, so it’s important to know how to identify them and what treatments are available in case you come in contact with them.
Identifying Poison Ivy and Poison Oak
Poison ivy can be identified by its pointed green leaves that hang from stems in clusters of three. Poison oak also tends to cluster in threes, but these plants have been known to appear in clusters of five, seven, and nine as well.
Poison ivy grows as a shrub and a vine; however, poison oak is most likely to grow as a shrub. Compared to poison ivy’s pointed leaves, poison oak has rounded leaves that somewhat resemble the leaves of an oak tree.
Poison Ivy and Poison Oak Rashes
The rashes that you experience after touching these plants is caused by an oil they contain, which is called urushiol. A rash won’t likely form until 12 to 72 hours after you’ve touched the plant, and the severity of the rash varies from person to person. The rashes can appear in the form of redness, on-site swelling, hives, itchiness, red streaks, and blisters.
Although these rashes are not contagious, you can spread the infection to another part of your body or to another person if you still have urushiol oil on your skin. That’s why it’s so important to wash and scrub your affected area of skin with warm soapy water as soon as possible after exposure.
It often takes a couple weeks for the rash to fully go away, but if you start to experience swelling in your face or difficulty breathing, it’s important that you go to an emergency room immediately.
Natural Ways to Treat Plant Rashes
Since skin with a rash is already irritated and sensitive, it’s a smart idea to avoid harsh chemical ingredients when you go to treat it. These are some natural ways to treat plant rashes like poison ivy and poison oak.
Seagate Stop Rash
This all-natural homeopathic remedy comes in spray form and has an omega-3 oil base. Fish liver oil nourishes damaged skin, and this doctor-recommended treatment soothes on contact, absorbs quickly into the skin, and promotes rapid healing.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is used in lots of home remedies and is known to help fight the causes of many rashes. It has anti-microbial, antiseptic, anti-fungal, and antibacterial properties that may help draw the poisonous toxins out of your skin. You can soak a brown paper bag in apple cider vinegar to place on the rash, apply a teaspoon of it directly to the infected skin, or add it to other soothing ingredients, like coconut oil and tea tree oil, to make a cream.
Baking soda is another great home remedy that can help relieve the itchiness of poison ivy and poison oak. Make a simple paste by combining three teaspoons of baking soda and one teaspoon of water. Apply the paste directly to the infected area to relieve the itch.
Aloe vera can take some of the burning sensation out of a poisonous plant rash, and you can apply it directly to your skin. Pick up a bottle of the store-bought variety, or better yet, grow an aloe plant in your home to cut and get the gel directly from the leaf.
Oatmeal is another great remedy for soothing the itch of plant rashes, and it contains compounds that can reduce inflammation. You can make a paste by cooling cooked oatmeal and applying it directly to your rash. Or if your rash extends over a large section of your body, soak in an oatmeal bath by adding oatmeal into the “foot” of a clean nylon stocking, tying the top into a knot, and running your bath water through it to fill the tub.