It is important to note that poison sumac is one of the plants including poison oak and poison ivy that are known to trigger rashes if an individual who is allergic is exposed to them. Always remember that these plants produce urushiol oil which is basically a substance present in the leaves, stems and fruits once they are damaged. When going outdoors, it is important to wear proper clothing to prevent exposure to poison sumac.
In some individuals, they do not react upon exposure to urushiol oil but most are highly sensitive to it. A severe itchy rash will manifest within 24-72 hours after exposure to the poison sumac. Without treatment, the rash typically subsides within several weeks. On the other hand, a doctor should be consulted if the rash spreads to other parts of the body such as the mouth, eyes or genitals since this would require further treatment. If you want to learn more about allergic reactions and how to manage them, click here.
The first step if you suspect that an individual came in contact with poison sumac is to wash the entire body using water and soap within 10-15 minutes after contact in order to prevent a rash from developing. This will help with the removal of the urushiol from the body. Clothing, shoes, tools and other items that came in contact with the plant should be cleansed using alcohol and water to prevent repeat contact with the skin. If urushiol is left on objects, it can trigger an allergic reaction later on.
In case rashes and blisters start to develop, the individual must be instructed not to scratch the affected area that came in contact with poison sumac since bacteria might enter the broken skin and trigger an infection.
The ideal way to soothe the itchiness and minimize the swelling is to apply a cool compress over the affected skin or simply soak the affected part in a cool bath at several times in a day. Baking soda or oatmeal can be added to the bath water for an added soothing effect. Aluminum acetate solution can also be applied over the blistering areas 2-3 times in a day for 20 minutes.
There are over-the-counter medications that can be given to help reduce the swelling and itchiness. In most cases, diphenhydramine which is an antihistamine can be given orally to help relieve the itchiness and allow the individual to sleep better at night.
Zinc oxide can provide protection to the skin as well as dry out the blisters. In some cases, prescription medications are given which include antibiotics for infection. Corticosteroids are also given if the rashes have spread and if the home remedies are not effective.