Camping, fishing, swimming. Summer always means being outside to me, but it also means sunburn, blisters, and occasionally a red, itchy rash. If you get a rash that’s itches, is inflamed, oozes, and in severe cases burns, you may have poison ivy.
Poison ivy is a significant problem in the Eastern United States. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, there are 50 million cases of poison ivy related dermatitis annually in the United States.
What is poison ivy? Poison ivy is a flowering plant that grows throughout most of North America, and grows in every state East of the Rocky Mountains. It is most common in wooded areas, especially along the edges where sunshine filters through.
Poison ivy’s appearance can vary greatly. It can be a trailing vine, a shrub that can grow up to four feet tall, or a climbing vine that grows on trees. Identification can be difficult, however, there are characteristics that are usually sufficient.
The leaves are almond shaped and are in clusters of three each growing on its own stem, which connects to the main vine, and are often shiny. There is a lack of thorns, and an alternate leaf arrangement. There are sometime white berries, which are poisonous to humans.
What do you do if you think you’ve been in contact with poison ivy? Wash the area with a wet cloth, or soak the affected area. Do not touch the area with your bare skin. You can spread the rash. It is the oil of the plant called urushiol that you are allergic to.
If the rash covers a large area or if symptoms are severe, you should seek medical attention. A doctor may prescribe a corticosteroid cream to clear up the rash, or pills. Usually, the rash last ten days to several weeks, but it can up to six weeks in severe cases.
The best treatment is prevention. I always suggest taking precautions. It’s best to avoid contact with the plant if you can. This is done by learning to identify the plant, but if you are going to be in an area with these plants, you might want to wear pants and long sleeved shirt.
Make sure to wash any clothes that come in contact with the plant. If there is any oil on them, you could still get a rash. You want to keep the oil from contacting the skin. A lotion, such as Ivyblock can act as a barrier, and keep you enjoying the great outdoors…
Leaflets three let it be? Or Berries white, danger in sight? Comment and let me know!