In the past week my mother contracted poison ivy. Seeing the rash on her arm brought back memories of when I was in the fourth grade and I was covered in poison ivy. I had half of my body covered in calamine lotion and I had to wear a dress to dance class because I couldn’t wear a leotard. Whenever lotion was applied to make the rash go away I would feel a little bit of a sting because I could not stop itching.
Itching is the main reason why the poison ivy spread. Eventually, my parents cut my nails down a bit, so the wound would not leak onto the skin and infect more. It was not a fun time. I remember going to school and constantly reminding myself not to scratch. I really wanted to scratch because of how much poison ivy itched. Even though I was only covered in poison ivy for a couple of weeks, it felt like forever. It felt as though, this would go no where. That I would be covered in itchy red spots all over my body. Imagine being covered in pimples, but they itched and cover up did not do the job well.
In honor of the horrific memory of me contracting poison ivy as a child. As well, as my mother contracting it over the weekend. I have decided to look up a few facts on poison ivy for prevention and how to stop the spread.
- DO NOT SCRATCH! Scratching allows poison ivy to spread through out the body causing an infection.
- If you brush up against poison ivy, immediately wash your body with lukewarm and soapy water. This helps rinse off some of the oil.
- Wash your clothing, by doing this you are already taking the first step to stopping the spread. The oil can stick to the clothing causing other pieces of clothing to become intact with poison ivy.
- Wash everything the oil hits the surface. Poison ivy can be contracted by just touching the surface of a table.
- Leave blisters alone. Sometimes poison ivy blisters, when this happens DO NOT REMOVE the overlying skin. The skin can protect the raw wound underneath and prevent infection.
- Take short lukewarm baths. This helps ease the itch and taking one in colloidal oatmeal helps more. You can purchase this at a local drug store.
- Consider calamine lotion or hydrocortosine cream. Apply this to the skin to help the itching go down.
- Apply a cool compress to the itchy skin. You can simply make one with a face cloth (wash right after use). Wring it out after washing in COLD water. Then apply to the itchy skin
These solutions not only work for poison ivy, but also poison oak and poison sumac. The best way to avoid contracting poison oak, sumac, and/or ivy is to avoid the plant completely. The picture above depicts poison ivy, not sumac and/or oak, just an FYI. Another way is to protect your skin, like wearing sneakers and ankle high socks when out hiking and/or long sleeve shirts.
Here is what poison ivy looks like:
- Each leaf has three small leaflets
- It grows in a shrub or a small low woody plant in far Northern and Western United States, Canada, and around the Great Lakes.
- Poison ivy commonly grows on a vine in the East, Midwest, and southern areas of the United States.
- In spring, it grows yellowish green flowers
- There may be green berries that turn off white in early fall.
Since poison ivy is not the only plant that can cause an infection and itch. Here is what poison oak and poison sumac looks like:
- Each has three small leaflets
- Mostly, it grows as a shrub
- In the Western United States, poison oak can grow as a vine.
- There may be yellow and white berries attached
- Each leaf has a row of paired leaflets and other leaflets at the end.
- Grows in a small shrub or small tree
- In the Northeast and Midwest, it grows in standing water or peat bogs
- In the Southeast United States, it grows in swampy areas
- The leaves, often, have spots that looks like blotches of black paint. These spots are from urushiol, which when it is exposed to air causes them to turn brown. Before, the urushial hits the air, it turns yellow.
- There maybe yellowish white berries
I hope that this information is helpful to you. I would not wish poison ivy, sumac, and/or oak on anyone. It starts off as a small itchy rash, the next thing you know you are covering yourself in calamine lotion. That is what happened to me. So, I hope that this information is useful. Here is the link to the website where I got most of my information from: https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/m—p/poison-ivy/tips There is more information is on this website for prevention and symptoms.