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How to Identify, Prevent, and Treat Stinging Nettle

How to Identify, Prevent, and Treat Stinging Nettle

Nature Labs , Administator  

How do I identify stinging nettle?

In addition to the poison ivy, oak, and sumac species, there is another common and wickedly itch-inducing plant called stinging nettle (Urtica dioica L.).This obnoxious weed uses its needle-like hairs to shoot irritating chemicals into your skin that can cause a burning feeling that can last as long as 24 hours (although it generally lasts for an hour). These stinging hairs are hollow, allowing them to contain a small amount of toxic chemicals inside. These chemicals probably include acetylcholine, histamine, 5-hydroxytryptamine, and formic acid.

The leaves, stem, and flowers of stinging nettle are all covered with these small, irritating hairs. The bright or dark green leaves are heart-shaped and toothed, the stem is squarish, and the flowers are small and green. This plant is classified as a forb and generally grows from 3.3 to 6.6 feet tall. Stinging nettle can be found growing in moist soil and in disturbed areas / waste grounds. Continual plowing often destroys stinging nettle, but mowing generally encourages new growth in this plant.

Although stinging nettle is not, overall, as potent as poison ivy and its relatives, it is certainly a plant to watch out for.

Stinging nettle is distributed almost ubiquitously throughout the United States and Canada (see the following USDA distribution map).

How do I prevent and treat stinging nettle burn?

If you wish to avoid getting an inflammation from stinging nettle, it is best to avoid this plant altogether. However, if you prefer to get nearer to this weed (for whatever reason), there are effective antidotes.

Jewelweed is considered an effective cure for a stinging nettle irritation. In fact, jewelweed is even considered more effective on stinging nettle inflammations than it is on poison ivy rashes according to the West Virginia Wildlife Magazine. Therefore, jewelweed soap, lotion, or balm will likely work on your stinging nettle pains. Remember, jewelweed is not ONLY effective on poison ivy.

Other folk remedies for stinging nettle rashes include the juice from dock leaves, rosemary, mint, and sage.

DID YOU KNOW: Northwestern Native Americans used the fiber from stinging nettle to make rope, twine, and fishing nets.


A stinging nettle inflammation can be a serious medical condition and if you believe you have a stinging nettle inflammation, you should seek medical attention. This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional medical advice.

 

 

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