Many native plants are poisonous to humans, including poison oak and poison sumac. The most prevalent in the Midwest is poison ivy.
If your skin comes in contact with sap oil of a poison ivy plant, it causes an allergic reaction. This allergic reaction on the skin affects most people who are in contact with the poisonous plant. Reactions may be in the form of an itchy red rash with bumps or blisters.
“Severe poison ivy rashes require medical attention, especially if the rash is on the face or genitals.”
If you have been in contact with poison ivy, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) first says to rinse the area thoroughly with rubbing alcohol, dishwashing soap and plenty of water. Severe poison ivy rashes require medical attention, especially if the rash is on the face or genitals. For minor irritation, relief can be found by using over-the-counter treatments. Apply a wet compress and calamine lotion to reduce itching and blistering. Taking an antihistamine such as Benadryl can help relieve itching.
The best way to prevent a poison ivy rash is to be aware of what the plant looks like and take necessary measures to avoid it. The CDC helps you identify what is poison ivy versus a non-poisonous plant:
Eastern poison ivy is typically a hairy, ropelike vine with three shiny green (or red in the fall) leaves budding from one small stem
Western poison ivy is typically a low shrub with three leaves that does not form a climbing vine, and it may have yellow or green flowers and white to green-yellow or amber berries.