Poison sumac is known to trigger a rash if an individual who is highly sensitive to it is exposed, especially while outdoors during camping or hiking. The plant releases urushiol oil which is a substance present in the leaves, stems and fruit once they are damaged. Some individuals do not react once exposed to urushiol oil but many are highly sensitive to it. With this in mind, it is vital that you know how to distinguish poison sumac from other harmless plants in the wild so that exposure can be avoided.
When an individual is exposed accidentally to poison sumac while outdoors, an itchy rash can manifest within 24-72 hours. Take note that the rash will subside within several weeks if not treated. In case the rash spreads to the mouth, eyes or genitals, a doctor must be consulted for proper assessment of the condition as well as provide the appropriate treatment.
The initial move is to wash the entire body using water and soap within 10-15 minutes of exposure to poison sumac. This can help prevent a rash from developing by removing the urushiol oil from the body. The clothing, shoes and tools that came in contact with poison sumac must be cleaned with water and alcohol to prevent repeat exposure to the skin. Remember that if urushiol oil is left on objects, it is still capable of triggering allergic reactions even years after. If you will register for first aid training, you will learn essential wilderness topics particularly on poisonous plants and measures to carry out in case of accidental exposure.
Once the rash and blisters start to develop, the individual must not scratch the affected skin since organisms might enter the broken skin and cause an infection. The best way to soothe the itchiness and minimize the swelling is to place a cool compress on the affected skin or instruct the individual to take a cool bath a number of times in a day.
Baking soda or even oatmeal can be sprinkled to the bath water that will be used for a soothing effect. In some cases, aluminum acetate solution can also be applied over the blistered areas 2-3 times in a day for 20 minutes.
There are over-the-counter medications that can be given to the individual to help control the itchiness and swelling. Corticosteroid creams or calamine lotion can be applied over the affected skin. An antihistamine such as diphenhydramine can be given to relieve the itchiness and help the individual sleep.
Zinc oxide can also be used to protect the skin and facilitate the drying up of the blisters. There are also prescription medications including corticosteroids and antibiotics that can be prescribed by the doctor if home remedies are not effective.