Hiking and walking in wooded areas or fields requires caution because some plants can cause significant discomfort and pain. Stinging nettle is one plant that you should avoid because fine hairs grow along the serrated edges of these leaves. Touching the hairs causes a toxin to inject into the skin, which feels extremely uncomfortable -- similar to bee stings. If you encounter a stinging nettle plant, soothe nettle stings by using other foliage that often grows nearby.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Yellow dock leaves
- Plantain leaves
Find a yellow dock plant growing nearby the stinging nettle. Yellow dock often grows in the same vicinity, making a convenient way to soothe the nettle sting. Yellow dock is a tall plant with large, ruffled leaves growing abundantly around the bottom half of the plant. In the centre of the plant, tall stems shoot vertically, with tiny flowers and seeds covering the stems. Break off a large leaf and rub the leaf over the stinging area to reduce the sting.
Scan the growing vicinity for a plantain plant, also a frequent companion plant to stinging nettle. Plantain plants have round leaves lying flat and facing upward. The leaves spread out from the centre of the plant, overlapping to form the base of the plant. In the centre, find spires of long and thin seeds sticking straight up. Remove a leaf and use it as a poultice over the stinging area on your skin. Hold the plantain leaf tight against your skin until the stinging subsides.
Look for a jewelweed plant growing near the stinging nettle. A jewelweed plant resembles a bush with serrated leaves growing abundantly along stems. Look for orange-spotted flowers hanging from the stems. Remove several leaves and soft stems from the plant and crush them to find the juice. Spread the juice over the stinging area to soothe and reduce the pain.
Tips and warnings
- Recognise nettle when you see it growing. Nettle grows between 2 and 4 feet tall with pointed and serrated leaves. The blossoms are small and green.
- Although the sting from stinging nettle feels quite uncomfortable, the pain does not last more than an hour, with the worst pain during the first 10 to 15 minutes.
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