If you’re like us, then you absolutely love the outdoors (which by definition makes you an “Outdoorspeople” kind of prepper). Whether you’re camping, hiking, or just out and about, one of the worst things that can happen to you is if you happen to have a run in (literally) with poison oak, poison ivy, or sumac — the three types of plant-based Kryptonite for the prepper and outdoor enthusiast.
Symptoms of Exposure
Direct contact with one of these plants can result in a red, burning rash that constantly itches and small blisters that will ooze liquid if broken. Exposure rarely results in a more severe reaction than these, but for a small number of people, it can develop into a much more severe rash or allergic reaction.
Treatments for Exposure
Here are the steps you should take when you get exposed to one of these rash causing plants:
Fight Fire with Fire – If you are fortunate enough to find jewelweed or touch-me-not plants close to the area you have been exposed, crush the leaves and stems and rub them on the exposed area. The juices will neutralize the irritant effects of the poison ivy, oak, and sumac. But it will not stop a rash if it has already begun.If you spend lots of time in areas where you may be exposed, it is good to know how to identify these two plants because they can often be found close to where one of these poisonous plants are growing (a great example of the synergy of nature.)
Keep it Isolated – As soon as you can after exposure, cover the affected area with rubbing alcohol — many of our first aid kits include alcohol pads that may be useful — to remove the plant’s juices so that it doesn’t spread to a larger area. In a pinch, you can use running water but it is not as effective. Wash all contaminated clothing and tools so you don’t get re-exposed to the juice, which can stay contaminant for quite a while.
Apply Compresses – When the rash appears, you can apply compresses soaked in cold water and Burow’s solution — a 1 to 40 concentration — for about 10 minutes three times a day. After you let it air dry, coat the rash area with calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream. This will help reduce itching.
It’s important to note that, if the rash is on the face or any important area of the body or spreads to a wide area, it’s advised that you seek out medical attention.