When summer approaches, many people get out of their homes and engage in outdoor activities like camping and hiking. If you are one of them, make sure you be careful while hiking or camping. Aside from other risks, you may get rashes from poison sumac, poison oak or poison ivy while walking through woods.

Rashes caused by these plants may cause skin itchiness and irritation. Therefore, you need to recognize the symptoms to find out which plant caused the rashes. This way you can take the right steps to deal with the problem.

So, what’s the difference between poison ivy and poison oak? While all plants look quite similar in the woods, but some species are quite dangerous and may cause skin irritation. All of the three plants mentioned above have one thing in common: urushiol. This oil is the liquid that causes skin rashes. Let’s find out the difference between poison sumac, poison oak, and poison ivy and the steps you can take in order to be on the safe side.

Poison Ivy: This plant can be found across the United States except for Hawaii, Alaska and some areas of the West coast. Typically, while camping, these plants can be seen growing on a shrub or vine. The leaves of poison ivy are glossy and three spoon-shaped. The edges of the leaves can be either tooth-like or smooth.

Based on the season, the leaves tend to change colors. For instance, their leaf color is yellow/orange in Autumn, green in summer and red in spring.

Poison Oak: Just like Poison Ivy, Poison Oak can be found across the US but it’s more common in the Western United States. However, you may have to struggle to find it in the Midwest region. Given below are some poison oak images.

The plant has a group of three poison oak leaves but you may also find 7 leaves in a group. Around each leaf, you can see deep tooth-like edges. Usually, it can be seen growing like a vine or shrub.

Poison Sumac: You can find this plant in Northern and Southeastern United States, especially in swampy, wooded areas. What does poison sumac rash look like? You can recognize it easily. Each stem of this plant has up to 13 leaves. The leaves are pointy and feature smooth edges. Typically, the plant grows as a small tree or shrub.

Facts to keep in mind

If you come into contact with any of the three plants during your camping trip, given below are the facts you need to keep in mind.

  • The rashes may or may not appear after your first contact with any of the plants
  • A rash may appear on the area of contact post a few hours, days or weeks
  • The rashes don’t spread from one person to another
  • You may get rashes from anything that has urushiol on it, such as your clothing, garden tools, pets, and other stuff. You need to wash the oil off with water to remove it or it won’t go away.
  • If your blisters break, don’t worry as the liquid in the blisters is not urushiol and won’t spread rashes.

Preventive Measures

  • Watch out for the three plants when you are out in the woods on a camping trip
  • If you need to work around poison ivy, make sure you put on long pants, long sleeves, and gloves. After you are done, don’t forget to wash your gloves and garden tools.
  • If your pets have come into contact with poison ivy or other similar plants, use water and pet shampoo to wash them. Although these poisonous plants are not dangerous for pets, the oil may stick to them and when you touch your pets, you may get rashes.
  • If you come in contact with poison ivy or other similar plants, make sure you wash your skin as soon as possible.

Treatment Tips

If blisters appear on your skin, don’t make the mistake of scratching them. The bacteria under your nails may cause bacterial infection. You can use the following tips to relieve the itch:

  • Soak in cool water or use wet compresses
  • Consult your physician and take oral corticosteroids or topic steroids

Consult a medical professional

If the problem gets worse during camping, you might want to get in touch with a medical professional right away. This is even more important if you have the following symptoms:

  • High fever
  • Push, tenderness or yellow scabs on the rash
  • Worse itching

So, this was a description of the difference between poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. If you follow the preventive measures describes in this article, you will be safe during your camping trip. In case you end up with rashes after coming into contact with a poisonous plant, follow the treatment tips and consult your doctor.

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