When camping or just hiking through ‘The Great Outdoors’, it’s important to know the plants that surround you. Some plants look very pretty, and may be tempting to reach out and touch, but doing so may cause harm. The three most common harmful plants are poison ivy, poison sumac and poison oak. These cause skin irritation, even more so if you are allergic to it.
It is important to know how to avoid these plants, especially if travelling abroad.
Identify the Plant
If you are looking at a plant and are unsure if it is harmful, you can easily use your smartphone to identify it. Many plants will not cause irritation or reaction in humans, but it is best to know for sure.
Such applications include PlantNet and iNaturalist. This way, if you find out it is a plant that can harm you, you’ll know not to touch or get near it. You may also want to familiarize yourself with local lists of poisonous plants. These can be found through an online search or from a local poison control organization.
Wear Socks and Long Sleeves
Planning on going for a hike? Be sure that places like your ankles, hands and wrists are all protected against any plants that may accidentally brush up against you. Wearing long socks and shirts with long sleeves are your defense against any potential irritation.
Be Careful While Foraging
Foraging can be a very rewarding experience. Many people enjoy finding their own food right in nature and cooking it up to make a tasty dinner. But certain bushes with berries, plants, herbs, or mushrooms growing out of the ground may be harmful. If you are unsure about the plant or mushrooms, or any other herbs that you may see, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Poisonous berries, mushrooms and other vegetation can cause anything from severe stomch upset to death. Make sure you know what something is before consuming it.
If You Do Come In Contact
Best practice for dealing with harmful plants can vary based on the plant and the location of the injury.
Plants like poison ivy cause a type of allergic reaction that is best treated immediately with soap and water or rubbing alcohol. Items like corticosteroids or other medications may be recommended based on the extent of the reaction.
Oral reactions either from touch or eating can lead to dangerous symptoms. If you begin having a reaction in your mouth from a plant, contact a healthcare professional. They will be able to evaluate you and take any action if needed.
Travel insurance often covers these types of unexpected medical expenses.
Passport Health offers various travel kits that can help keep you healthy while abroad. Each of our clinics also provide travel vaccines like typhoid and yellow fever to help keep you protected from local diseases. Call or schedule online now to ensure you travel safely.