It’s camping and hiking season and that means locals and travelers alike will be enjoying the great outdoors. For those who aren’t particularly familiar with plant life, however, these pleasant activities can quickly turn uncomfortable because of dermatitis – rashes caused by various environmental irritants.
Before you leave for that next adventure spend some time learning the local plant life and natural hazards and stock up on key treatments. Don’t let dermatitis ruin your trip.
Poison Ivy And Friends
The most common and most well known causes of outdoor skin rashes are poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac, but can you identify these plants? Most people know the general appearance of poison ivy, which has groupings of three leaves, but poison oak and poison sumac look more like shrubs. Poison oak is largely isolated to the Western US while poison sumac is more common in swampy areas so beware if you’re hiking or camping in a damp region.
If you come into contact with one of these plants, it’s time to retire to your tent and get out the cold compresses. First, though, be sure to wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water – if you don’t get off the plant oils the rash will only continue to get worse. Depending on how persistent the rash is, you may need to see your doctor for topical corticosteroids when you get home.
Calling All Congress Grass
Also known as carrot grass or Gajar Ghans, Congress grass is actually a member of the aster family found all around the world – and that means no matter where you go camping this summer, there may be some in your path. Luckily, while it shares a name with grass, Congress grass looks much more like a flowering weed than your front lawn so keep that in mind as you’re tromping through the woods.
Of course, while you may be able to avoid stepping in a clump of Congress grass, that won’t keep you safe. The particles that cause an allergic response to Congress grass are airborne and can also cause allergic rhinitis, asthma, and other unpleasant reactions. If you have known breathing problems, don’t leave home without your inhaler – even if you haven’t had an asthma attack in years.
No matter where you’re traveling this summer, don’t leave your health fate. Bring basic items such as calamine lotion, hydrocortisone cream, and antihistamines with you so that you don’t have to worry about regional pharmacy differences or about making your way back to the head of the trail on a longer trip.
If you pack for your trip based on the scouts’ motto – be prepared – you’ll be ready for any reaction nature throws your way. Don’t let a rash throw you off your trail.
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