The beginning of summer kicks off the camping and hiking season, anxiously awaited by those who have endured a long cold winter. This year will likely prove to be one of the busier camping seasons as many Americans bypass more expensive vacations that involve pricey airline tickets or gas guzzling road trips. Emergency department staff will probably see a greater number of people with contact dermatitis caused by exposure to poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac. Many people have never seen poison ivy , or perhaps wouldn't recognize it if they saw it. Poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac belong to the plant genus Toxicodendron (previously referred to as Rhus ). Toxicodendron means "poisonous tree." These plants have an oil-based substance in the resin on their leaves and in their stems and branches called urushiol that causes a delayed skin reaction in about 50% of people that contact it. Urushiol may cause severe contact dermatitis in people that have previousl...
Definition Poison ivy , oak, or sumac poisoning is an allergic reaction that results from touching the sap of these plants. The sap may be on the plant, in the ashes of burned plants, on an animal, or on other objects that came in contact with the plant, such as clothing, garden tools, and sports equipment. Small amounts of sap can remain under a person's fingernails for several days unless it is deliberately removed with very good cleaning. This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. Alternative Names Poison oak; Poison sumac; Sumac - poisonous; Oak - poisonous; Ivy - poisonous Poisonous Ingredient One poisonous ingredient is the chemical urushiol. Where Found Bruised roots, stems, flowers, leaves, fruit Pollen of poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac Note: This list may not be all-inclusive.
In susceptible individuals, poison ivy causes allergic contact dermatitis. While contact may be apparent and avoidable in many cases, it may not be so when clearing brush at the end of the season, and can cause breathing problems if an allergic person inhales smoke from burning brush with poison ivy. Interestingly, the compound that causes the reaction, urushiol, is also found in poison oak and sumac. What few people know if that it is also in the skins of mango fruit!
For more information on the Allergen of the Month feature, see the overview , and check out the previous post on latex .
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