A few hours after a hike on a wetland trail, a patient notices a red, itchy rash. Through the night, they go through bouts of intense itching, and in the morning, they notice small blisters have developed. These are the irritating consequences of coming into contact with poison sumac. Although poison sumac looks like other species of sumac trees, it is a member of the genus Toxicodendron along with poison oak and poison ivy. Plants in this genus produce urushiol oil, which is the source of the itchy skin. While a poison sumac rash is rarely life-threatening, it is certainly uncomfortable and best to be avoided. The good news is there are a few simple ways individuals can prevent a poison sumac rash.
Immediately Wash Skin With Soap And Water
If an individual thinks they have come into contact with poison sumac, the first step is to immediately wash their skin with soap and water. The longer urushiol oil is in contact with the skin, the higher the individual’s chance of developing a rash is and the more severe the rash will be. It is critical to use soap and not water alone, since because oil and water do not mix, only rinsing with water can spread the oil on the skin, making the contact area even larger. Soap will emulsify the oil, breaking it down so it can be safely rinsed from the skin. It is best to wash the affected area multiple times with soap and water to be certain the oil is removed.
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