A camping trip can easily be ruined if you uncomfortable. Before you set out on the trail, pitch a tent, or squat in the bushes with your pants around your ankles, make sure you know your leaves.
This plant is very common around North America, minus the west coast. Dress in long pants and shirts if you are hiking or in a highly vegetated area. Severe burning and itching of the skin will occur. In addition burning of the plant will cause illness if inhaled.
This plant is like poison ivy so it should be treated similarly. Avoid petting any dogs walking on trails because they can spread the poison to you. Eastern Poison Oak has three leaves like poison ivy and produces white berries. Western Pacific poison oak is a shrub-like climbing plant that can grow over 8 ft high.
Lastly, this plant is the least common, but most toxic. It grows in very wet areas, mainly in the eastern part of the United States, and has smooth leaves. Contact causes a severe rash and blistering of the skin.
What to do?
According to Dr. Dan Brown, who studies dangerous plants at Cornell University, if you do acquire a rash from any of the plants listed above, start with over the counter treatments such as calamine lotion, oatmeal baths, baking-soda solutions or herbal supplements. He recommends the remedy Technu, specifically for poison oak exposure.
Dr. Brown states that campers need to remember that each region of the country has its own hazardous plants. Ask a park ranger what plants to avoid when you arrive at the campsite. When in doubt, just don’t touch!