Avoid contact with poisonous plants during summer

Published 4:39 pm Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Warm weather lends to more outdoor activities and increased exposure to poisonous plants such as poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac.

According to webmd.com poisonous plants contain an oily sap call urushiol that triggers allergic reactions if it makes contact with skin, resulting in an itchy rash. The rash can appear a couple of hours after exposure or a few days later.

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Jeff R. Buntin, a nurse practitioner at Highland Community Hospital, said anyone can suffer from an allergic reaction if exposedto the plants. Anyone with a history of allergic reactions will show signs sooner.

Buntin said rashes can take about 10-15 days to disappear from the skin.

While not everyone will have an allergic reaction to these plants, caution and understanding of the plants will help avoid complications, Buntin said.

Symptoms include intense itching, due to blisters or an extreme rash.

A mild reaction can be treated by taking over-the-counter antihistamine, Buntin said. Applying a layer of hydrocortisone, a cream available over-the-counter, can also help treat small rashes.

Buntin said although over-the-counter medications can help, reactions that worsen or persist longer than 15 days should be treated by medical personnel.

“Potentially any allergy can be life threatening,” Buntin said.

Anyone experiencing shortness of breath and swelling in the facial area due to the rash should immediately consult a health professional, he said.

Individuals who know they are allergic should wear long sleeved clothing before going to areas where these plants grow.

If a person suspects they have touched one of these plants, they should wash their hands immediately to prevent the rash from spreading.

For more information, call Highland Community Hospital at 601-358-9765.