Summertime activities in the outdoors are great, but watch out for poison ivy. The best way to avoid problems is to avoid poison ivy. But if your Scouts do come in contact, take care of it right away. Some people don’t seem to have any reaction at all, but other seem to get a terrible rash with the slightest of contact.
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Poison Ivy Fact and Fiction
Identifying Poison Ivy
Leaves of three – leave it be!
It is true that poison ivy has three leaves grouped together. But so do a lot of other plants. How can you tell poison ivy from the harmless plants?
- has three divided leaves
- center leaflet is on a longer stalk than the other two leaves
- can have white, waxy berries along the stem
- leaves alternate on the stem
- grows as an erect shrub or climbing vine
- vine has hairy aerial roots
Poison Ivy Facts
- The irritation from poison ivy is caused by a toxin in its oil. When the oil comes in contact with skin, it can cause an itchy rash.
- If you come in contact with poison ivy, change your clothes and wash your skin. Use soap and water. Even rinsing in a creek will help if nothing else is available.
- The toxin in the oil can remain on clothing and shoes for up to a year.
- Spray – do not burn – poison ivy to kill it. Burning poison ivy can vaporize the oil which can then come in contact with the skin or even get in the lungs.
Poison Ivy Fiction
- Poison ivy is a useless plant and should be eradicated. FALSE! Poison ivy does provide benefits to some wildlife. Songbirds eat the berries. Birds also eat insects which hide in the vines. Small mammals and deer eat the twigs and foliage.
- The rash is contagious. FALSE! The rash itself is not contagious. But if you touch the area of the rash and there is still oil there, the toxins in the oil can transfer to whatever you touch.
- You can’t get a rash from dead poison ivy plants. FALSE! The oil can remain on dead plants and can be transferred to your skin if you touch a dead poison ivy plant.
- If you have never gotten a rash in the past when in contact with poison ivy, then you will never get a rash. FALSE! Most people are allergic to poison ivy. And the more times you come in contact with it, the more likely you will have a reaction to it. Just because you touched it once and didn’t get a rash doesn’t mean you never will.
- If you break one of the blisters in the rash, the oil will be released and spread more. FALSE! But don’t break the blisters, because that increases your chance of infection.