How to Spot and Treat Poison Ivy
- July 17, 2019
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If you’ve ever had poison ivy, you know it’s something you never want to experience again. Poison ivy rashes are caused by a sticky oil called urushiol, which is present on all parts of the plant, including the leaves, roots, and stems — meaning no part of the plant is safe to touch. Additionally, very few people are immune to it, with 85 percent of people being susceptible to a rash after coming into contact.
Don’t let poison ivy ruin your time outside. Here are some tips for identifying the plant, as well as ways to treat the dreaded rash if need be.
Poison ivy is a green, or sometimes red, three-leafed plant. It generally grows low to the ground, but it can also develop as a shrub or vine up trees and other structures in your lawn. The leaves can vary slightly in appearance—they can be jagged or smooth-edged and either shiny or dull. The middle leaf is usually somewhat longer than the other two. In the spring, a poison ivy plant may have tiny buds or flowers which then become white or gray berries in the late spring and summer.
If you think this unfriendly plant has moved into your yard, there are ways to remove it yourself, but calling a lawn specialist like Farison will be your best bet to ensure it’s removed entirely and safely. Dedicated lawn care after its removal — including sheet mulching and strategic planting — can prevent it from returning.
We won’t sugarcoat it: poison ivy is highly uncomfortable. Fortunately, there are ways to relieve the itching and dry up the rash quickly.
Urushiol oil can easily get on clothes, shoes, and even pet fur, making it easy to spread. If you think you’ve come into contact with poison ivy, immediately wash your skin with mild soap and cool water. This will reduce the amount of oil that causes the allergic reaction. The irritation usually begins one to three days after exposure. The good news is that poison ivy only spreads through the oil, so the rash itself is not contagious.
Poison ivy shows itself on the skin in red linear streaks or bright red blisters, which may leak a clear or yellow fluid.
For relief, compress the affected area with a clean cloth soaked in whole milk for 10 to 15 minutes a few times per day to dry up the blisters. Over-the-counter topical hydrocortisone cream and Calamine lotion will also help dry the rash. To help with the itching, apply natural aloe. While antihistamines like Benadryl may also help with itching, it won’t help rid of the rash itself. You can also talk to your doctor about a prescription topical steroid to speed up the healing process.