Poison Plant Oil Created by More Sources than Poison Ivy

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By Lisa  |  Wednesday, February 8, 2012  |  , ,  |  Leave comment

mangos can cause a rash similar to posion ivy and oak

(This blog post has been updated to make corrections to some of the terminology originally used. A special thanks to Sandra J. Baker, researcher and author of The Poison Oak & Poison Ivy Survival Guide for her guidance.)

If you frequently experience exposure to poison ivy, oak or sumac plants, then you may be familiar with the term for the plants' oil called urushiol. Urushiol is an oily substance that is found in all parts of poison ivy, oak and sumac plants including leaves, stems and roots. Urushiol is in the plants' resin, so when the canals break, the resin leaks out.

Did you know that a urushiol-like rash is not just created by poison ivy, oak and sumac? You can react to other plants such as:

Mangos - the peels, leaves, stems and sap of mango plants contain an allergenic oil called resorcinol. The chemistry of resorcinol is similar to that of urushiol so if you are allergic to poison ivy or oak, you may find you are allergic to mangos. Mangos are the most common source of plant dermatitis in Hawaii during its primary ripening season.

Cashews - the nut shells contain anacardiol and cardol, which can cause an urushiol-like reaction. However, roasting cashews will destroy the allergen. Cashews imported into the United States are heated to neutralize the oils before they are sold to you. Cashews labeled "raw" at your grocery store are in fact preheated.

Other sources of urushiol-like reactions include plants such as the Rengas tree, Burmese lacquer tree, India marking nut tree and Ginkgo biloba.

Urushiol - The name comes from the Japanese word Kiurushi which denotes a lacquer produced in East Asia from the sap of Toxicodendron vernicifluum (the Lacquer Tree) - Urushiol entry, Wikipedia.com

Why does urushiol cause a rash?

Contact with urushiol produces a rash in three out of four people, although the severity of a rash will vary from person to person. The rash caused by coming in contact with urushiol is the body's natural reaction to the allergen which is why it is best to remove it from your skin as soon as possible. Repeated contact with urushiol can result in increased sensitivity to the oil.

The rash, also known as allergic contact dermatitis, can begin as soon as a few hours after contact with urushiol or up to five days later. Symptoms include itching, inflammation, oozing, and in severe cases, a burning sensation.

How do I remove urushiol from my skin?

Washing with Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser or Tecnu Extreme Poison Ivy Scrub will remove urushiol from your skin. In addition, Tecnu Extreme Poison Ivy Scrub can help relieve itching caused by the rash.

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