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

Mother threatens children, punches son in eye, police say
Mother threatens children, punches son in eye, police say

An Ohio mother threatened her children and punched one of them in the eye, police said.  Zipporah Thompson, 27, was recorded in a video Sunday threatening her children ages 2 and 1, according to WFMJ.  “Your father don't want y'all and don't care about y’all,” Thompson said in the video handed over by the father to...
Lava from Hawaii volcano reaches Pacific Ocean, causing new concerns
Lava from Hawaii volcano reaches Pacific Ocean, causing new concerns

An “explosive eruption” happened at Kilauea's summit on Hawaii's Big Island early Monday, prompting officials to warn residents to protect themselves from ash fallout as the Kilauea volcano eruption continues into its third week. More than 40 structures have been destroyed in the eruption that started May 3. It has since inundated ...
No trench coats, backpacks allowed: Schools adjust rules after deadly Santa Fe school shooting
No trench coats, backpacks allowed: Schools adjust rules after deadly Santa Fe school shooting

Days after Friday’s deadly school shooting at Santa Fe High School, school districts in the Houston area are re-evaluating their policies and are increasing security. Aldine Independent School District told KTRK medal detectors and ID scans will be used at single entry points at all of its schools. The district also has cameras at every...
Florida couple takes Walmart scooter for joyride to dive bar, police say 
Florida couple takes Walmart scooter for joyride to dive bar, police say 

A Florida couple stole a motorized shopping cart from Walmart and took it on a joyride down the street to a nearby dive bar, police said.  Jeffrey Robert Sabiel and Santa Marie Walters took the scooter Thursday from a Largo Walmart and drove it about a mile east to Jimmy’s Sports Bar, where an officer found the cart parked out front, ...
Royal wedding: Official photos of Prince Harry, Meghan Markle released
Royal wedding: Official photos of Prince Harry, Meghan Markle released

The British royal family on Monday released official photographs taken after Prince Harry wed American actress Meghan Markle in a highly anticipated ceremony in England over the weekend. The couple wed at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle on Saturday, nearly two years after they met when a friend set them up on a blind date in London. Kensington...
More Stories