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Poison ivy leaves up close.

Poison ivy plants creeping along the ground.

Don’t Touch Poison Ivy
Our wonderful wooded landscape is what sets our community apart from most of our neighboring communities. As the summer months draw forward, our urban forests, trees and shrubs continue their annual growth cycle. Residents are always eager to remove out of control weeds and plants from landscape areas surrounding their homes.

Residents are urged to be careful while weeding, mowing or during routine up-keep around their homes. A study showed that 75% of those randomly poled did not know what poison ivy looked like. Poison ivy comes from the family Anacardiaceae (sumac family), native to North America. The leaves of poison ivy are composed of three smooth leaflets, which turns a vivid red during the autumn foliage.

You can get poison ivy by touching it directly, or touching something that has come into contact with it such as your
clothing, tools or your dog. You can also catch poison ivy by breathing in smoke from firewood burning with poison ivy on it.

After an area of your skin has been exposed to poison ivy you should immediately rinse the area on your skin with lots of cold water. “Do Not” use hot water when trying to get the poison ivy oil off of your skin. The hot water will open your skin pores letting the oil into skin. You can also use rubbing alcohol to help remove the oil from your skin; however, after a ˝ hour the oil has already soaked into your skin and can’t be removed.

If you have not removed the poison ivy oil in a timely manor, that area of your skin will eventually become extremely itchy followed by a “severe rash”. You should contact your doctor immediately if these symptoms are present. The rash will last anywhere from a week to 3 weeks, depending on how bad it is and how you treat it. Your doctor may prescribe you medication that may make the rash go away faster.

Here are some home remedies that can help ease discomfort from poison ivy:

-Take a shower in the hottest water you can stand for as long as you can stand it. The hot water will ease the itch and help your skin feel better only for a few hours.
-If the heat from the water eases your rash, you can also try a hair dryer, but ‘BE CAREFUL”. Don’t burn yourself.
-Jewelweed is widely thought to help the rash. Mash some stems and leaves of the weed and apply it to the rash on your skin.

Please don’t try any home remedies without consulting your primary care physician first.