Poison sumac is a plant found everywhere in United States except in some area like Alaska and deserts of Nevada. This plant just like its botanical cousin plants poison ivy and poison oak contain an irritating substance called Urushiol.
Urushiol is an oily sap which can trigger an allergy, especially allergic rash on skin when it comes in contact with the body. The rash is extremely itchy. It can develop within few minutes or few days after coming in contact with the skin.
The allergic sap oil is present in leaves, stem and roots of the plant.
Cause Of Poison Sumac Allergy
Poison sumac causes rash on the body. It is a chemical in the sap oil called Urushiol that causes the rash. It is an irritant. Majority of people who come in contact with the oil suffer from allergic reaction. When a person comes in contact with Urushiol, he may not suffer from rash.
There are few fortunate people who never develop rash even if they come in contact with sumac repeatedly. Sumac poisoning or allergy can develop in following three ways.
- If the person comes in direct contact with the plant; its leaves, stem, root and flower. All the parts of sumac contain Urushiol oil.
- A person can be affected through indirect contact. It means Urushiol can stick to other objects such as clothing, gardening tools, fur of dogs and cats or any other pet animal etc. When a person comes in contact with it, he can suffer from skin rash.
- Urushiol is also found in a dead plant. When sumac plants are burned the smoke can be inhaled or may come in contact with skin. In both cases exposure to the chemical can irritate the skin as well as the nasal passage, throat and lungs. Inhalation of the chemical can have serious repercussions on respiratory system.
Cases of poison sumac allergy are seen more in early fall, spring, and summer as people are inclined to spend time outdoors.
Symptoms Of Sumac Allergic Reaction
Poison sumac as well as other plants of similar botanical background contain same chemical which produces various allergic dermatitis symptoms. This chemical is called Urushiol. It is oil like substance present in sap of different parts of plant. Once the patient comes in contact with the oil, the symptoms may develop within few minutes to hours or it may even take 3 to 4 days to develop. Urushiol is absorbed easily in the skin.
First symptom to appear is mild burning, stinging, itching and redness on the skin surface. The symptoms are worse where the oil has directly touched the skin. There will be classical red streaks on the surface of the skin. Small and large blisters form along the streak. Eventually thin liquid will ooze out from the blisters when they break. The fluid dries up to form crusts on the skin.
It becomes an emergency if the condition presents with trouble in breathing and swallowing or when the full body is covered with rash.
The rash is not contagious and a person will not get the rash if comes in close contact with the patient.
Home Remedies For Poison Sumac Rash
The symptoms of sumac poisoning or allergy can be treated easily with home remedies as well as conventional anti allergic medicines. It may take few days for the symptoms to resolve.
- Warm the affected part with soap and water. It should be done as soon as possible after exposure to the Urushiol oil because the skin can absorb it very fast once it sticks to it. Additionally person should also remove and clean his clothes.
- The next step is to apply cold compress over the area. It reduces itching and discomfort caused due to poison sumac.
- Apply paste prepared by mixing baking soda and water over the skin rash. Rinse the paste after 30 minutes. Apply it at least three to four times in a day.
- Witch Hazel has strong soothing properties. It is an excellent home remedy for poison sumac and poison ivy allergies. It alleviates itching and burning. Person has to dab a cotton ball soaked in witch hazel solution.
- Swimming in ocean water shortens the skin suffering caused by contact with poison sumac.
- Rub the inside of banana peel on the skin surface. It helps to reduce itching and red rash.
- Apply aloe vera gel over the affected area. It relieves itching because of its fabulous healing properties.