Skin Issues from Plants

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Skin Issues from Plants

Leaves three, leave it be.

Peter Gridley/Getty Images

Most people have had some kind of skin irritation due to contact with the wrong plant. Poison ivy and poison oak are two of the main culprits. Whether you get a minor rash or irritating blisters depends on the plant, the degree of contact and the relative susceptibility of the person. Some people may not be allergic to poison ivy at all, while others will break out in hives from minimal contact. You can also suffer from an allergic reaction due to wind blown spores or pollen. Aside from poison ivy and oak, the following plant parts may cause some form of skin irritation:

  • boxwood leaves
  • century plant sap
  • ginkgo seeds
  • horse apple sap
  • oleander leaves
  • pawpaw fruit
  • poison sumac
  • trumpet creeper leaves

Poison ivy and oak are bright green and have a leaf pattern of three per branch. The old saying, "Leaves three, leave it be," should be heeded at all times. If you come into contact with any of these plants, wash your skin thoroughly with soap and water. Many times, washing immediately will greatly reduce the irritation. If you have some calamine lotion in your first aid kit, use it to avoid spreading the rash and try your best not to scratch your skin.

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