The wise ones that came before us passed down a gem of a saying when it comes to recognizing poison ivy; leaves of three, leave it be! But just in case you have the misfortune of getting too close, I have a natural remedy to try!
It’s summer and we’re outside! We love it but, the great outdoors can be a slippery slope, even if you live in the “burbs”. Poison ivy has a preference for the midwest, the edge of forests and recently disturbed ground. It produces a berry that birds and squirrels find tasty and then the forestry begins! The little critters may drop a tiny Poison ivy seed as they’re passing through your garden or local park.
Did you know that Poison ivy is a member of the cashew family and 50 to 70 of people who have direct contact with Poison ivy will experience a reaction? True story! Poison ivy is green all summer and one of the first plants to turn red or orange in the fall and, get this, ALL parts of the plant can cause an allergic reaction, even without the leaves…
“Poison ivy produces an oleoresin called urushiol. This is the clear sticky oil which contains a chemical transmitter and resin that binds to the surface of your skin cells. In most people this oil will trigger an immunologic response that leads to a rash or “Rhus” dermatitis. Urushiol is very potent. Scientists estimate that the amount of urushiol need to infect 500 people would fit onto the head of a pin. It is a stable, long lasting and can remain active on a dead plant for up to 5 years. Urushiol is found in every part of the poison ivy plant throughout the entire year. This would even include the roots & berries of the plant.”
“Remember to avoid touching anything that has come in contact with poison ivy. Unwashed clothing can contain the active oils for as long as two years. If you used gloves to pull out poison ivy, don’t touch exposed areas of your skin, and don’t touch your face and eyes. Any garden tools such as saws, pruning tools, and shovels that were used in the removal of poison ivy should be cleaned before they are used again.”
We get it, it’s nasty stuff! Now what?
- Learn what Poison ivy looks like! It can look very similar to raspberry and blackberry leaves, this photo shows just how easy it can be to overlook the noxious from the normal. That’s it in the center. LEAVES OF THREE, LET IT BE.
- Do not touch anything that may have brushed up against Poison ivy, wash it first!
- If you come in contact, wash the area with soap, avoid moisturizing soaps and lanolin, it can cause spreading. You want simple soap or dishwashing liquid like Dawn, something that will break up the oil that’s bond to your skin.
- Let any blisters break and heal on their own, they can help prevent infection.
- Try a natural remedy to relieve itching and speed healing. Create a “spray bottle protocol” for pain-free application to sensitive skin.
- Blend everything together except...the alcohol-free witch hazel. After blending, add the WH last and blend one last time. Shake gently before using, spray affected area as needed for pain and itching. Store in a dark glass bottle in a cool place. Does not need to be refrigerated but a cool spritz feels pretty wonderful!
Hopefully, I’ve armed you with enough information you now know what to look for and avoid! Should an accident occur, have your ingredients on hand and go to work! Word of caution, though, should someone be so unlucky as to encounter Poison ivy contact near the eyes or genitals, a visit to a professional might be in order if possible.
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