5 Facts to Know About Poison Ivy

I clean out a patch of poison ivy in our flower bed every spring. I rip as much of it out by the roots as possible.  Every spring--I get a poison ivy rash from this endeavor and every summer, I see a few poison ivy leaves slowly returning to the flower bed from roots that I missed.  Today, I wanted to share a few facts that you should know about poison ivy to keep your family safe from this nuisance plant.

We are submitting the post as our latest entry in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.  
P is for Poison Ivy.  

Poison Ivy Doesn't Really Go Dormant.  While the poison ivy plant loses its signature leaves in late fall--the stem and roots remain ready to give you a nasty allergic reaction year-round.  It is important you learn to identify the plant through the various seasons, especially winter and early spring before the leaves emerge--and protect yourself from the plant accordingly.

Wash Everything that Comes Into Contact with a Poison Ivy Plant.  It is certainly important to wash hands and shower after contact with poison ivy.  But, to avoid exposing yourself to the irritating oils from the plant, you should also wash gloves, clothing, even shoes, and garden tools that came into contact with the plant!  You can also get a rash from poison ivy oils on your dog or cat's fur when you pet them--so be sure to bathe them too if they may have been in contact with a poison ivy plant!

Poison Ivy Oils Remain for YEARS on Surfaces Unless Cleaned Away.  Experts recommend using rubbing alcohol to remove poison ivy oils from surfaces.  If the vine was growing along landscaping bricks before you ripped it out--clean those bricks to remove irritating oils.  If your boots contacted a patch of poison ivy, you can get a rash from touching the oils on your boots until it is washed away.  

Poison Ivy Rashes Do Not Spread Through the Bloodstream or From Contact with Rash Blisters.   I had always thought that scratching poison ivy blisters led it to spread to other places on my body.  It turns out that scratching should be avoided to prevent infection--not reduce the risk of spread.  The rash may appear slowly over a few days or appear soon after exposure depending on the amount of oil you came into contact with and the skin area's sensitivity--and you can expose yourself to the oils several days later by using a poison ivy oil-contaminated garden tool that wasn't cleaned or from wearing shoes or clothing that hadn't been washed after contacting poison ivy.

Cold Compresses, Calamine Lotion, Aloe, Hydrocortisone and Benadryl Aid Treatment at Home.  For mild cases, there are a number of at-home treatment remedies to try.  I am currently using aloe and hydrocortisone to relieve some of the itch and swelling from the rash--along with doses of Benadryl at night to help me sleep through the irritation!   I have been forced to visit the doctor for prescription-strength steroids a few times during the worst of a bad reaction--but, mostly, I treat with home remedies and wait it out until the rash subsides!

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