Poison Ivy Identification: Treat & Prevent
Poison ivy is an irritable rash that causes redness, itching, blisters, and swelling, and if inhaled, the smoke from burning poison ivy can cause breathing difficulty.
These symptoms are caused by an allergic reaction to the oily resin on the plant, stems and roots, called urushiol (u-Roo-she-ol).
Identifying The Poison Ivy Plant
How can you tell if a plant is poison ivy? First, look for a plant with three leaves. Second, the middle leaf’s stalk is longer than the stalks of the other two. Third, the leaf’s color can be red or green, the surface can be dull or glossy, and the edges can be smooth or look like lobes of teeth. Many people associate poison ivy with the saying, “leaves of three, let it be.”
Poison Ivy is prevalent during the spring and summer when it is in full bloom; however, people highly allergic can become affected throughout the year.
During the springtime, poison ivy leaves can start with a dark red color with shiny leaves but gradually turn green and become less shiny. The newer leaves will start rounder at the tip, becoming pointed as they mature.
The poison ivy leaves in the summer are mainly green, although some leaf edges and stems may appear reddish. The vines can now spread quickly amongst other plants and grasses. A foliage wall can be created within fences around trees and elsewhere.
During the fall, the leaves can turn a brilliant red, orange, or yellow, but beware, and let the leaves of three be!
In the winter, the plant will lose its leaves. The vines will have a hairy appearance as they remain attached to fences, trees and other structures. Do not touch!
What To Do When You Come in Contact with Poison Ivy
The oily resin urushiol will stick to skin, clothing, dog’s fur, garden tools and other surfaces it encounters. Anyone touching the plant or the surfaces where the oil has adhered to and is allergic can have an allergic reaction and develop symptoms.
Washing the urushiol oil off immediately after contact can help to prevent a reaction and rash from developing. Those who are sensitive need to pay attention. You can use soap and water, and poison ivy washes that you can find in local stores.
You should also wash your pets and other surfaces along with your skin.
Mild cases can be treated at home with lotions and cool baths. Many say that “Zanfel” works well when applied to the rash early on. It brings the oils to the skin’s surface, inhibiting them from going further through the bloodstream. (you must always check with a medical professional before applying any treatments)
Those who are highly allergic or have come in contact with the plant’s oil on various parts of the skin may need to visit their medical professional. You may need to be prescribed prescription medication or even an injection in such cases. However, it is essential to know that these need to be given during the early stages because once the oils reach the bloodstream, they will spread, causing additional rash outbreaks.
When outside, always be aware of your surroundings and the plants, like poison ivy. Before you lean up on a fence or a tree, check for the vines. If you plan on burning firewood, be careful of poison ivy that may be attached to the wood, as burning it can cause difficulty in breathing.
Get help to remove poison ivy on your property if you are severely allergic; never take on this task yourself.
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