Well there are three things you want to leave alone. Not only are these unpleasant with all the itching, rashes, and pain, but if it gets ingested or breathed in, it can be deadly.
I have a friend in the tree business; he and his cousin were doing their regular routine, cutting down unwanted trees, chipping the branches in a wood chipper, and cutting the logs for firewood or the saw mill, depending on the species. This particular tree was a very large pine tree, and it was literally covered with poison ivy vines.
My friend seems to be completely immune to this stuff; I have seen him covered in fresh, wet, sappy vines and not get as much as a spot. His cousin on the other hand, not so much. Unfortunately what they didn”t realize is that although the vines were dead and dry because it was early winter, you can still get it on you, or in you. Yes, in you, as he was chipping the dead, dried vines along with the branches he was breathing in the dust. He ended up in the hospital for two weeks on an antibiotic IV and respirator and almost died because the rash had gotten in his throat and lungs from inhaling the dust and you can”t put any oat paste on that rash.
This is what the stuff you want to avoid looks like; poison sumac is actually quite rare, but if you do run across some stay away from it! Poison Sumac grows in wetlands and grows as a small tree. There are many types of Sumac that are very common, but you need not fear them as they are not poisonous. It is actually an allergic reaction to the oil (urushoil) in the plants that causes the rash.
Poison oak is a plant that usually grows close to the ground as a small bush, its leaves look very similar to oak tree leaves, hence the name. There are a few different types of poison oak that have slightly different appearances. One type has pointed leaves, one type has rounded leaves and one type has shiny leaves. But regardless of the leaves, they are all very nasty and you don”t want to get it on you.
Then there is poison ivy. No less pleasant than oak or sumac, it is more common and more diverse. It can vine up and over a tree, bridge or house, it can have green pointed leaves with white berries, or it can have red leaves that are actually quite attractive. But don”t touch it! Because you don”t want to get any of this stuff on you either.
The skin rash from these lovely plants can be quite unpleasant, and not very pretty either. Mild rashes can be treated with ivy dry or similar over the counter medicines, but severe cases will need a doctors” ™ attention. Severe rashes from poison ivy, oak or sumac may cause scarring if not properly treated. From merely mild, uncomfortable rashes, to moderate painful rashes, to severe cases.
Rashes from these plants can be very unpleasant indeed. Often, if the affected area is cleansed immediately with a cleaner specifically designed to remove the oils, such as Zanfel, the effects of exposure may be limited. I have discover that Fast Orange hand cleaner that is sold in auto parts stores works quite well, and it is a lot cheaper.
A small tube of Zanfel can cost well over twenty dollars and you get about an ounce of the cream, but the hand cleaner is about seven or eight dollars for a half gallon pump container. Keep in mind, the hand cleaner is designed to remove oils, and it also has abrasive grit in it, just like the Zanfel, so you may want to invest in a container of the Fast Orange hand cleaner if you spend a lot of time outdoors just in case.