One day you may find yourself taking a walk in the woods, or wandering around while camping, and all of a sudden you get a rash. You might know what poison ivy looks like, so you’ll think to yourself that you were careful to avoid it, but yet you still have a rash. Well, there are other plants that can cause a rash, but they are not discussed nearly as often as poison ivy, oak, or sumac. Here are just some of them…
This unassuming plant is often found near streams and in other various areas of woods and forests. The plant is usually between 2-4 feet tall and the color of the leaves may range from medium green to dark green. The leaves can reach up to 6 inches in length with a slightly elongated appearance, sort of like a palm, with edges that are serrated. It is the leaves that carry stiff, fine hairs which come off upon contact with our skin or clothes.
Our bodies react to the formic acid on the hairs, causing an itchy, burning rash. The nettle’s hairs that remain stuck to our skin can be removed by sticking a good adhesive tape on the affected area and pulling them out with it. Do not reuse the tape. The rash usually lasts up to two hours, maybe less and can easily be relieved with an antihistamine.
The Stinging Nettle is found in most of North America and it loves to grow in places close to water or soil that is constantly wet. It can also be found near people’s houses or backyards. This plant’s leaves closely resemble the Wood Nettle’s, except it grows opposite each other instead of alternately. Some plants have a purplish color in its green, serrated leaves.
The Stinging Nettle also has pretty pink colored small flowers in little bunches, which start out as white buds. The stinging nettles are not only on the leaves but also on the flowers and stems of the plant. Our skin’s reaction is more severe and the burning itch can last up to several hours. Taking an antihistamine can help, but it may take more than a couple of hours for the reaction to die down, even with medication.
Giant and Common Ragweed
Both plants are commonly seen around the United States of America. They have leaves that resemble an open palm, complete with outstretched fingers. Their names are related to the sizes of the leaves; the common ragweed has smaller leaves compared to the giant ones. The ragweed plants can cause hay fever-like symptoms because of their flowers, but brushing up against the plants themselves can also cause our skin to react with swollen raised bumps which can be itchy and have a burning sensation. An antihistamine can be helpful in decreasing both hay fever reactions and the skin rash.
Wild Parsnip are commonly found anywhere in North America. The plant is often covered with small yellow flowers that are very attractive. It is quite sensitive and you can easily break off its stems, causing the sap to come out. When the sap touches our skin, there is no reaction until the affected area is exposed to the sun. The oils in the sap react to the heat of the sunlight and this creates the burning sensation, which is a bit difficult to remove. If the sap is left on the skin too long, blisters will form and the skin may form bloody welts.
Before you wander through the woods, there are many dangers to be aware of, and plants are just one of them. Research more poisonous plants so you can identify and thusly avoid them while you’re outdoors. None of us wants to deal with a rash! The more you know, the better, but just in case you accidentally run into one of these plants, make sure to carry antihistamines so the symptoms aren’t nearly as severe.