Poison Oak – Identification
Few Pointers That Can Help You With Identifying The Poison Oak –
Poison Oak imitates the plants around which it grows. So identification of the plant becomes very important. However, the first step in the identification of such plants that cause skin problems on contact is not to touch the plants in the first place. Wearing clothes that cover you up fully and impermeable gloves may protect you against direct contact.
Poison Oak’s leaves grow in a triplet. So, when you spot a plant like that, staying away from it might be the best idea!
The leaves have a typical characteristic. In the leaf triplet, two leaves branch away from the middle stem in two opposite directions while the central leaf extends out from the middle stem. In most cases, the leaf in between is longer than the two that branch out.
This plant grows as shrubs and bushes in some geographies while it creeps out as a vine in others. It does not develop thorns.
The leaves have round edges or sometimes bear the shape of an oak (to imitate the plants around). Poison Oaks always grow out in a trio (a pattern of three).
The infection and rashes are not contagious. However, clothes and other articles may act as carriers as whatever touches the leaves, carry the infection. So, it is a good idea to wash clothes after coming back from outings where any such encounters occur.
The leaves may appear oily or dull. In both cases, the leaves carry the toxic urushiol oil, which causes the rashes and irritation on the skin.
Burning the leaves of Poison Oak can also result in developing rashes and skin infection as the smoke becomes a carrier of the toxic oil.
The leaves may be green or red, depending on the season as well as the surrounding plants. It blooms a tiny white flower or red and green berries, and one should avoid touching those.
After coming in contact with the leaves, the effects may not be pronounced, and it may take up to an hour or even a few days for the rash or irritant skin to appear.
Treating The Rashes Caused By Poison Oak –
Washing the infected area with cold water or coolant to stop the oil from spreading the infection further is the very first step to be taken after you realize it.
On realizing that you have been affected by the poison oak, you should immediately wash all your clothes and other articles, gears as it may all act as carriers for transmission of the toxic, harmful urushiol.
An ordinary soap might not work very effectively as the oil formulation is rigid. Hence, using a degreaser like dishwashing bar will prove to be more productive.
You can rinse off your skin with lukewarm water. Mix some soap in the lukewarm water. It will wash off the oil compound.
When you go to places where you are aware of the presence of poison oaks, you should carry along with you the special poison plant wash. It should also be a part of your hiking kit.
Rinsing the rash or the contacted area by rubbing diluted alcohol, diluted apple cider vinegar, baking soda & water paste against it also helps in getting rid of the toxic oil off the skin.
If you realize about the rash after a few days, take care of your skin by applying calamine lotion as the constant itchy feeling will bother you. Do not scratch. Leave the rash alone. Applying aloe vera gel over the outbreak will soothe it.
If the rash is around any sensitive areas of the body or near the genitals, then one should visit the doctor. One should immediately consult the doctor if there is any difficulty in breathing, swallowing, or the infected person gets a fever or swelling as these could be signs of severe reactions or even a misinterpreted infection.