Poison Ivy Identification
Throughout the United States, Poison Ivy is one of the most common causes of rashes in children and adults each year. While some people are immune to the typical effects resulting from contact with the allergenic oils produced in Poison Ivy, most people experience an allergic rash that requires treatments ranging from home remedies to hospitalization. Therefore, the ability to identify Poison Ivy is the most important step to avoiding contact while working near vegetation. Common characteristics to identify Poison Ivy include:
- Leaves grow in bundles of three (3) leaflets;
- Leaflets have 1-3 shallow lobes on each side; lobes are often only on one side, giving leaflets a shape resembling a “mitten”;
- The leaves can be shiny, but may be dull;
- Depending on the time of the year, leaves can change color: red in the spring, green in the summer, yellow/red in the fall; and,
- Can grow as a climbing vine or an upright shrub.
How to Minimize the Effects of Poison Ivy
Some safety tips to minimize the effects of Poison Ivy include:
- Avoid areas where Poison Ivy is known or anticipated to grow;
- When entering vegetation areas, wear long pants, a long sleeve shirt, boots, and gloves. The less skin exposed will decrease exposure;
- If exposed to Poison Ivy, wash the skin as soon as possible. Washing oils off as soon as possible will help to limit the extent of rash;
- Wash any items or tools that may have been in contact with Poison Ivy. Plant oils can remain on objects for long periods of time, indirectly causing a rash; and,
- Never burn Poison Ivy to get rid of it. Burning the plants can still release oils into the air and induce a widespread rash on anyone near the fire.
By being able to recognize Poison Ivy and following a few safety tips, you will significantly increase your chances of avoiding this painful nuisance.