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Poison Sumac Treatment

Dealing with poison sumac is not a comfortable experience. If you’re noticing blisters on certain areas of your body and they itch like crazy, it’s possible you have poison sumac. However, it’s also possible you’re dealing with poison ivy or poison oak. Its imperative you figure out what you’ve developed before trying to look for any type of treatment. After all, the wrong treatment could leave you in a worse situation.

Identifying Poison Sumac

The first thing to understand about poison sumac is that there is a five leaf or seven leaf pattern present. Poison ivy and oak both have three leaf patterns. Also, there are small fruit-like balls on a poison sumac tree or shrub. These are extremely poisonous as well, so we highly recommend keeping them out of your mouth or even plucking them from the plant.

Anytime you touch poison sumac you’re going to be dealing with the urushiol oil that it produces. When the urushiol enters the pores of your skin, a rash develops and starts itching like crazy. In order to control and overcome this irritation, we’ve put together several different poison sumac treatments. Some of them are meant to temporarily relieve the pain, some are built to speed up the healing process, and others can be used as preventative measures.

We want to start with the preventative measures, especially if you just came into contact with poison sumac:

1) Keep Your Clothes Separated – Whatever you were wearing outside while in contact with poison sumac, should be taken off and put into the washer or a separate bag. Urushiol can be transferred from the plant to your clothing, so it’s possible to get poison sumac after being outside.

Let’s say you put the clothes in a bag and forgot about them for six months. All of the sudden you find them, take them out of the bag, and put them in the washer. If you touched the clothing where urushiol was present, you can still get poison sumac 180 days later. The best approach is washing them immediately and reducing the risk of additional ailments.

2) Take a Shower – Once you’re out of those clothes and they are isolated (you don’t want someone else getting poison sumac), hop in the shower. Make sure the water is cold so the skin’s pores can close up. This will allow any urushiol on your body to wash off and reduce the amount of poison sumac you end up developing.

We can’t stress enough how important it is to take a cold shower. Sometimes you’re too late for some areas (ankles, wrists, etc.), but cold showers can keep you from having poison sumac in several different locations on the body. Hot showers only provide an invitation for urushiol to enter the skin.

3) Check the Pets – Animals are immune to poison sumac, so if your pet has urushiol on his or her coat, you could end up with poison sumac without actually coming into contact with it. If you know poison sumac is in an area where your pet roams, be sure to give them a thorough bath afterwards.

We also recommend wearing waterproof gloves and long sleeve shirts. We’ve never met a pet that enjoys taking a bath, so when you have to contain them, the proper clothing will need to be worn. Another good idea is being able to spray your pet by using a showerhead. This keeps you from any direct contact with your animal while spraying them down. It’s just a good way to reduce the risk of developing poison sumac on you.

4) Backtracking – If you head home to take a shower and wash away the urushiol, it’s important to backtrack. Think about all the things you have touched since you left the trail. A great example would be your vehicle’s door handle, steering wheel, and shifter. Even if you have an automatic, you had to put the car in drive. All of these areas could have urushiol oil on them. If you take a shower and then head to the grocery, it’s possible to develop poison sumac shortly thereafter.

Now, some people will be working in their backyards and want to remove the poison sumac from their property. If this sounds like you, make sure all your tools, the gloves you wore, and anything present is disinfected. The wisest choice is using alcohol, because it removes the urushiol entirely.

Healing Poison Sumac Faster

Poison sumac can last anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks depending on the severity of the situation. There are a few things you can do to make it heal faster, but none of them are guarantees. We’ve put together a few options that might help, especially if you’re dealing with a major situation:

1) Creating a Scrub – Sometimes the best medicine comes from simple ingredients in your cabinets. One of the most popular choices is mixing vinegar and baking soda. The combination creates a nice scrubbing option to help your poison sumac heal faster. Even though it will only help your itching for a short period of time, the amount of time you have poison sumac will be shortened.

2) Prednisone – If you go to the doctor, there is a chance he or she will prescribe prednisone. This is a steroid that is typically used to treat Leukaemia, but it is also very beneficial when allergic reactions are present. If you feel more comfortable utilizing a doctor’s approach, be sure to ask them about this drug.

Temporary Relief

Since you will be dealing with poison sumac for at least a week, short term relief efforts are necessary. One of the easiest approaches is using a cold compression. Every ten to twenty minutes or so, place the cold compression on the poison sumac. It will temporarily relieve the pain, but only for minutes at a time. Another option is using a hairdryer to heat the area. It will itch profusely in the beginning, but after 30 seconds or so it will subside. This approach will give you anywhere from 3 to 5 hours of relief. However, you have to be able to handle the initial itching sensation.

1) Popping Blisters – One thing to understand about poison sumac blisters is that they are primarily filled with water. You won’t find any urushiol in the blisters, so there is no chance of it spreading to another location. However, if you’re going to open them up, make sure this is done in the shower. It will keep them from becoming infecting and getting worse.

2) Calamine Lotion – This approach is hit or miss. Some people can find relief from Calamine lotion, but others tend to think it makes things worse. If you find yourself struggling with the latter, hurry up and take a cold shower. It is possible for this lotion to irritate the skin, especially if you’re allergic to some of the ingredients.

3) Vinegar – Earlier we talked about the mixture of vinegar and baking soda to make a cleansing scrub. You can find a little relief if you just use vinegar and apply it to the poison sumac. It’s not anything long term, but it will help you contain the overwhelming itchiness.


Getting Started

Unfortunately this is a trial and error process. Some of these options will work wonders, but others will be useless. The best thing to do is start with something you haven’t tried before and see what happens. Well, take advantage of all the preventative measures as well. After all, you want to keep the development of poison sumac to a minimum.

If nothing seems to be working and you haven’t been to the doctor; schedule an appointment. It’s possible they will have the answer you’re trying to find.