I got poison ivy the summer of my junior year of high school while visiting my grandmother in rural South Carolina. I had been helping her with the garden, picking muscadine grapes, and just fiddling outside of the house when a rash appeared on my leg. Of course, it was poison ivy which I had avoided for 17 years and finally came into contact with it.
After I was treated for poison ivy with an ointment, it was still very hard for me to not scratch my leg. I knew that would only make it worse, causing it to spread. I had to keep the infected area on my leg clean and dry as well as apply the ointment twice a day. That was hard for a teenager to do! It got better after about three days and I forgot about it after a week and a half. I do remember that I never wanted to get it again. From my experience, these tips for dealing with poison ivy will protect you from coming in contact with the plant and explain what to do if you do have an allergic reaction:
Tips for Dealing with Poison Ivy
1. Be Able to Identify Poison Ivy
A big mistake many people make while gardening or going into the woods is not being able to identify poison ivy. If you are like me, poison ivy is hard to recognize. Jon Sachs of poison-ivy.org provides dozens of examples of what the plant may look like in a variety of settings. Just remember that it has three leaflets and grows on a vine possibly bearing berries. Knowing this can be beneficial to your health.
2. Wear Protective Clothing
I wish I had known why Grandma always wore a long sleeve shirt, long pants and gloves when she went gardening before I got poison ivy. It wasn’t because she was old and losing her mind, but she knew from experience that the clothes and gloves would serve as a barrier from the oils coming in contact with her skin.
3. Wash Clothes You Believe May Have Come in Contact with Poison Ivy
Grandma made me rewash all of the clothes with very hot water that I had worn within the last week of getting the rash. She said she wasn’t sure she when I was exposed to it as the rash could take a few days to show up after first contact.
4. Go See a Doctor
Back in those days, my grandma’s town had a community clinic and she took me there as soon as I started scratching my leg. That is where I got my ointment. If you come in contact with the plant, the doctor will be able to recommend or prescribe the right medications depending on the severity. I was glad we went.
Responding quickly to any signs of poison ivy is the best thing for your health if you feel like you have come into contact with it to prevent severe allergic reactions.