Tips to Know Before Exploring the Great Outdoors

During this time of year, many of us are spending a lot of time outside, and summer is particularly enjoyable for hiking and camping.

One real risk you face in spending an increased amount of time outdoors or in wooded areas is encountering what I like to call “problem plants”, such as poison ivy, oak, and sumac.

While coming into contact with any of the three wouldn’t be any fun, in case you do, knowing the signs of irritation and what to do if affected are very important.

Go online and research what each of the plants look like and where they are commonly found if you plan on spending much time outdoors. A great resource is the American Academy of Dermatology’s website at www.aad.org.

If you come in contact with poison ivy, oak, or sumac, the irritated skin will be red, swollen, and itchy. In severe cases, small blisters can crop up, and clear fluid may seep from the skin.

What to do if you get poison ivy, oak, or sumac …

  • Do not scratch or rub the inflamed skin. Compresses of cool, clean water can be soothing. Aspirin and similar pain relievers can reduce pain.
  • Steroid ointments will speed healing. Mild preparations such as hydrocortisone are available over the counter, stronger medications by prescription. If you have a severe case, your doctor may prescribe a steroid pill such as prednisone.
  • Remember that the best treatment is prevention.

Stay out of the way of these problem plants and keep your summer a happy, healthy one.

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