Poison Ivy Season – Avoid the Rash

It is spring time and once again it is time for cleaning of yards, debris from winter and just general clean up around your property. Time for Poison Ivy again!

A few key facts about poison ivy to keep in mind:

  • The rash is caused by oil, Urushiol
  • Urushiol is present in ALL parts of the plant
  • It only takes 1 billionth of a gram to cause a rash
  • ¼ ounce of urushiol is enough to cause a rash for every person on earth (if all were allergic)
  • Urushiol normally stays active between 1-5 years on any surface, including dead ivy plants. Rash depends on individual sensitivity
  • Some people are not allergic to urushiol now, but may become so over time and with exposure
  • Highly sensitive people can have a reaction within 10 minutes or less of exposure
  • Urushiol can be spread on tools, trucks, clothing, paperwork, etc.
  • Wash contaminated work clothes separately
  • Clean tools that have come in contact with the plant
  • It can grow as a groundcover, free standing bush or climbing vine
  • Often grown on field edges, roadsides, fencerows, etc.
  • Three shiny leaflets are attached to woody stem
  • Size, shape and color of leaflets vary
  • Climbing vine has “fuzzy” tendrils
  • White-yellow flowers in the springtime
  • White berries, fruit in the fall that may persist all winter long on ends of branches
  • Poison ivy and stinging insects are hazards that should be addressed in your pre-clean-up hazard survey.
  • Avoidance is the best method of protection
  • Learn what it looks like and where it grows
  • Wear long sleeves, gloves, etc.
  • Use tools if you need to contact the plant on the ground but remember to clean that tool

If you do contact any part of the plant:

  • Wash affected areas with large amounts of clear water, avoid soaps as they may spread the oil
  • Use products like Tecnu to help remove the oil
  • Use Zanfel for light to moderate reactions
  • Seek medical attention for serious reactions

Source:
“The Treeworker”

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