5 Outdoor Irritants That Will Ruin Your Ride

Poison Ivy, Oak, Sumac

Wash skin with soap and water as soon as possible after exposure, or try Tecnu, an over-the-counter treatment that removes the toxic oil that causes irritation. (Water alone won't do it.) Relieve itching with an OTC hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion. Popping a Benadryl will also calm discomfort.

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Bee Stings

Remove an embedded stinger by scraping it gently with a credit card. Apply ice to swelling and take Benadryl for itching. If you experience trouble breathing, hives, swelling in your mouth or throat, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, call 911. Allergic to bees? Always carry an EpiPen (check the expiration date) and follow the instructions on the prescription label.

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Eye Irritants

Minor ones like grit, dust or bugs usually will work their way out over time. Speed the process by flushing your eye with plain water from your bottle, starting from the inner corner. Try not to rub: It could scratch your cornea. Always wear sunglasses to prevent airborne irritants from divebombing your eyes in the first place.

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Singing Nettles

These 3- to 6-foot bushy plants deliver irritating histamines to the skin via tiny hairs that grow on the stems and leaves. Rinse with water from your bottle on the trail, and wash skin with soap and water as soon as you can. Apply rubbing alcohol or a baking-soda paste to relieve itching. Take ibuprofen for further relief.

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Cactus Spines

Remove with tweezers. Spines vary by species, so pull according to shape rather than straight out. For fine needles, press duct tape onto your skin then peel it off. At home, wash with soap and water and apply antibiotic ointment. If you see signs of infection (warmth, red streaks or swelling), seek medical attention.

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