It’s hard to believe July is here!
As the weather continues to heat up and you venture outside, check out Sona Pharmacist Marybeth Isley’s advice on how to avoid summer trouble:
How to Identify The Trouble Plants of Summer
Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac are all extremely common here in WNC.
Whether you are hiking on the Parkway, walking in your neighborhood, or taking your dog to a dogpark, chances are these plants are close by.
Poison ivy, sumac, and oak are hazardous to the touch because they contain an oil called urushiol. A urushiol reaction can present in a variety of ways, but the most common are an itchy red rash with bumps, blisters that may or may not weep, and inflammation.
Poison Ivy can exist as a hairy, climbing vine (this is the most common type in North Carolina), but can also be found as a small bush.
This plant can be identified by it’s three leaves branching from a single stem. Most of the year, it has shiny greens leaves, but in the fall they may turn reddish. It also may produce yellow or green flowers, as well as greenish-yellow berries.
Poison Oak is similar to poison ivy. It is mainly present in shrub form, and will have the same three-leaf formation, and can also flower and produce berries.
Poison Sumac is a woody shrub that has seven to thirteen leaves on a stem and may also contain berries similar to poison ivy and poison oak.
How to Treat Reactions
If you find that you have come in contact with an urushiol containing plant, here are some steps to take:
Wash The Skin Thoroughly:
Once you recognize that you have touched one of these plants, you want to remove the oil from your skin as quickly as possible.
Because urushiol is an oil, use an oil removing soap such as degreasing dish detergent.
Zanfel and Tecnu are two over-the-counter items available at Sona specifically formulated to help remove the urushiol oil. These washes work best within 8 hours of contact, but can also provide relief after a rash has developed.
Also remember that pets, bed linens, and clothing can all spread urushiol oil and should be properly washed as well.
Treat The Rash:
Over-the-counter items help relieve itching and irritation.
Hydrocortisone Cream 1% is a steroid cream that aids in reducing itching and inflammation. Calamine lotion helps soothe the skin and dries out oozing areas. These items should be avoided if you have open blisters.
Oral antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (or Benadryl), also help relieve itching, but may cause drowsiness.
Seek Medical Attention As Needed:
If a rash develops on sensitive skin such as the face or genitals, you should seek medical attention from your family doctor, or come see one of our wonderful clinicians at Sona Clinic!
For severe rashes, a trip to the doctor is also necessary and will aid in the timely resolution of your symptoms.
If you have any questions about which products to use, or would like to discuss other ways to treat rashes from these pesky summer plants, please stop by Sona and ask a pharmacist. We are always happy to help in any way we can!
The Sona team hopes you have a great (and itch-free) summer!