Poison ivy, oak and sumac … chances are that if you’re a camper you’ve come across one, or all, of these plants. They’re common throughout the US, except in Hawaii and Alaska.
Here’s a little information about each type. Knowing what you’re looking for is half the battle in avoiding these itchy plants.
Technically known as Toxicodendron radicans, poison ivy produces urushiol, a clear liquid in the sap of the plant. That is what causes all that unpleasant itching and the painful rash.
It’s not actually a true ivy. It can be found as a vine, as a shrub, and as a climbing vine that grows on trees or other plants.
Over 350,000 people are affected by poison ivy annually in the US.
Technically known as Toxicodendron diversilobum, poison oak is a woody vine or shrub in the sumac family. It is known for causing itching and allergic rashes, after contact by touch or smoke inhalation.
Contact with skin first causes itching. It may then evolve into dermatitis with inflammation, colorless bumps, severe itching, and blistering. Does not sound like a picnic to me!
Technically known as Toxicodendron vernix, poison sumac is a woody shrub or small tree. All parts of the plant contain urushiol just as poison ivy does. When it is burned, inhaling the smoke may cause the rash to appear on the lining of the lungs. Yikes!
Poison sumac is far more potent and toxic than it’s other poison counterparts. Your skin may have quite painful and swelling blisters.
Other good information …
Dogs and cats do not suffer the allergenic effects of poison ivy, sumac or oak like humans do. So that’s good news. Now the bad news … they can transmit the oil of these plants to you if it is on their fur. Your pet can bring you poison ivy, oak or sumac, even though you haven’t been in the woods. If you think they’ve been in contact with these plants, give them a bath (wear long gloves!) with Dawn dish washing liquid and use lots of cool water.
Poison ivy, oak and sumac rashes usually develops within a week of exposure and can last anywhere from one to four weeks.