An aspect of an outdoor adventure is the presence of potential dangers and risks. The trails are overgrown with forestation and most likely contain poison sumac plants and bushes. In fact, the trail varies difficulty and in the degree of conditioning and agility. So it is important to ensure safety!
Minimize the risks by becoming knowledgeable in knowing where to go and what variables to encounter along woodlands, forests, and on mountains. While trail running, you are exposed to the best and the worst of the natural world, so be prepared and alert to deal with any problems like wild animals and poisonous plants such as poison sumac, oak, and ivy.
Poison sumac grows into a small tree and contact with this nasty plant will result in a reaction similar to that of poison ivy and poison oak. This is because all three produce an oily allergenic substance called Urushiol. It is common knowledge that the urushiol oil produces an itchy rash in most people who touch it.
Dealing with an irritating, painful, and extremely itchy rash from a poison sumac on a trail is the worst. Fortunately, here are tips on how to prevent and treat poison sumac rash while on the trail:
Understand how you get the rash and why you are getting it
The cause of poison sumac rash is your body’s allergic reaction to the oil produced by the plant called urushiol. Remove urushiol from your skin as soon as possible after being exposed to the plant.
Wear proper clothing
The rash-causing urushiol can sip through thin clothing, so it is better to cover up wearing gloves, a long sleeve shirt and pants if it’s comfortable.
Wash with Cold Water
Wash the exposed skin with cold water within 10 minutes of exposure. Although urushiol is not soluble in water, rinsing the skin with plain water is better than doing nothing at all.
Avoid Hot Water
Do not rinse the skin with warm or hot water, the rash might get worse because hot water opens the pores and enhances the penetration of the oil into the skin.
Wash Clothing and Gear
Wash outdoor gear with poison ivy or anything else that came into contact with the plant, such as clothing, backpack, trekking pole, shoes, and laces either in a river or lake. Washing with soap is important because the urushiol oil remains active outside the plant and is not soluble in water alone. Or else, the oil will continue to produce a rash for up to 5 years.
Here are some tips on how to clean shoes exposed to poison ivy.
Apply alcohol-based hand sanitizer, alcohol wipes, or cleansing towelettes
Apply alcohol-based hand sanitizer or alcohol wipes directly into the skin to help dissolve the oil, and dry out the skin. Cleansing towelettes or wipes are also effective in removing plant oils before they have time to cause uncomfortable rashes, blisters and itching.
Use Oral Ivy for treating poison oak symptoms. Put 10 drops of oral ivy in 2 ounces of water every 2 hours as needed. As symptoms improve, reduce it to once every 4 hours, then twice daily until symptoms disappear. Place drops under tongue in 2 ounces of water at least 15 minutes before or half hour after eating, brushing teeth or drinking anything except water.
Use Skin Cleanser and Creams
Use Tecnu to remove oils from skin or you could also use cold compress, calamine lotion, non-prescription hydrocortisone cream, or an antihistamine to relieve itching. If the area of the rash gets too large and the allergic reaction is getting worse, get medical attention.
Keep On the Trail.
Fight the temptation to go off of the trail path and go exploring. When nature calls, make sure you are not hiding behind any poisonous tree or bush. Be safe and stay on the dirt path, because you know you aren’t walking through any poisonous plant. Keep an eye out of the plant and learn to identify poison sumac to avoid walking through it.
Use a Shield or Blocker
Using a pre-contact poison sumac lotion to act as an invisible barrier between the skin and the plant can make a huge difference in whether or not you wind up with a rash.
Keep Clean Gear
Clean off all gears from your last hike before using them again. The poison sumac oil could still be in there. Wash them before using, otherwise, you could end up with mysterious rash days, weeks, or months later.
Remember, know your surroundings and limitations before hiking or running on a trail. Anticipate and be prepared to deal with unexpected problems. Assume all the risks associated with the chosen activity. Have fun and enjoy!