Tips for fighting poison ivy


Think of it as the cockroach of the weed world.

Poison ivy thrives in extreme heat and drought and spreads through the most casual of contact. And, like the crunchy insect pests, it can seem impossible to eradicate.

With all of summer's outdoor activity, we're scratching our information itch by looking at what threats the weed poses and how they can be avoided or at least mitigated and treated.

Urushiol oil is present in all parts of the poison ivy plant, and you'll know whether you've come in contact with it — most people will develop an itchy, blistering rash. The more you've come in contact, the more allergic you're likely to become.

This rash might not develop until 12 to 24 hours after contact, when it's too late to take steps to prevent or lessen the effects, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

And there are surprising ways to become infected. A lot of people get itouching something that rubbed up against the weed, like perring their dog or touching a lawn care trimmer.

Its leaves grow in clusters of three, and it sprouts green-yellow flowers in the spring. If you do notice that you've been exposed to the vine, there are some immediate steps you can take:

  • Rinse your skin with lukewarm water. It is possible to remove some of the oil.
  • Wash tools and any clothing that might have come in contact with the vine. Oil remaining on these surfaces can reapply to the skin.
  • Bathe your pets. Although they won't develop allergic reactions, critters can transfer urushiol oil from their hair or fur to humans or onto surfaces with which owners might come in contact.

Once a rash has developed, there are ways to ease your suffering, which can last for several weeks.

Don't worry about scratching the rash and then transferring it to other parts of your body. Once a rash has developed, that can't happen. Further outbreaks are a delayed result of the original exposure.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends oatmeal or baking soda baths, calamine lotion, cool showers and compresses, and oral antihistamines to relieve the intense itching (the academy says that topical antihistamines, however, can make both the rash and the itching worse).

If you have a serious reaction that includes difficulty breathing and swallowing, or swelling — especially to the face — you should seek immediate medical attention. Severe cases may require steroid ointments or antibiotics.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Nation & World

Why this gun debate is different from the rest
Why this gun debate is different from the rest

Around 2:30 p.m. on Valentine’s Day, President Donald Trump was in the study off the Oval Office when John F. Kelly, his chief of staff, arrived with news of a school shooting in Florida. Trump shook his head, according to an aide, and muttered, “Again.”  Mark Barden was visiting a playground named for his 7-year-old son killed...
Florida House votes to force schools to display ‘In God We Trust’ a day after refusing to consider gun control
Florida House votes to force schools to display ‘In God We Trust’ a day after refusing to consider gun control

If the Florida House of Representatives has its way, all public schools in the Sunshine State will soon be required to post the words "In God We Trust" - the state's motto - on all campuses where students and staff can see them.  The House voted on the legislation Wednesday — 97 to 10, with members standing and applauding the results...
What do jotted talking points say about Trump’s empathy?
What do jotted talking points say about Trump’s empathy?

For more than an hour Wednesday, President Donald Trump listened quietly to entreaties for action, personal stories of grief and loss, and expressions of raw anger, clutching a white notecard with talking points written on it.  “I hear you,” one said. “What would you most want me to know about your experience?” said another...
‘We’re going to take action’: Inside Trump’s shifting stance on gun rights
‘We’re going to take action’: Inside Trump’s shifting stance on gun rights

President Donald Trump's decision to place himself at the center of the roiling debate over the nation's gun laws began hours after last week's Florida high school massacre, when images of angry yet poised teenage survivors were beamed into the White House on live television.  Trump's aides almost immediately recognized the power of their message...
Company run by Trump associate has received $75,000 from RNC
Company run by Trump associate has received $75,000 from RNC

A company run by Keith Schiller, who was one of President Donald Trump's closest associates when he abruptly left his job as director of Oval Office operations last September, has received $75,000 from the Republican National Committee under a contract to assess security at possible 2020 GOP convention sites, according to records and a party official...
More Stories