Dealing With Poison Ivy

Now that the autumn season has descended upon us we find that we are more inclined to take a brisk walk and enjoy a bit of nature. The various state forests and parks are excellent places to visit this time of year. The children have an opportunity to observe nature's annual metamorphosis as the trees and plants start to turn in color.

Along with all these positive attributes come a few negative downfalls as well. Since the 1950's, Poison Ivy has become more aggressive with its leaf size increasing and the toxic oils reaching elevated levels. This is not a very encouraging note if you happened to be one of those 350,000 people who became affected by the plant annually.

As always Poison ivy continues to top the plant list as the major plant to be avoided. The oily resin called "Urushiol" binds to the human skin upon contact and in the event that you may be allergic to it chances are great that you will develop a hypersensitivity reaction which is characterized by itching and a series of burning skin eruptions. With contact with this toxin you are condemned for anywhere from one to as much as three weeks of continuous itching and scratching. Upon absorbing the oil into the skin it generally takes approximately 12 to 36 hours for the symptoms to appear. Blisters and itching soon follow.

In 1609 Captain John Smith identified and termed the plant with its current name of "Poison Ivy". It is found typically in most forest areas of the North American continent. It is characterized by its three leaflet groups of leaves observed on small stems which originate from the larger main stem.

Prevention is usually the best course of action when it comes to Poison Ivy. Avoid contact with the plant when possible. Wear long pants, a long sleeve shirt, boots, and gloves in order to minimizeize being exposed to its toxic oils. Keep an active eye out for the plant as you do your daily travels. It has managed to find its way into yards, playgrounds, and other outdoor areas. If you discover a vast amount of the plant growing in your yard it is best to consult with professionals who deal with this plant on a continuous basis. Never "weed whack" the plants as that certainly spreads the Poison Ivy oil around your yard.

For some strange reason most pets are immune to the effects of the plant however, it is not unusual for humans to get the oil on their skin from petting their pet's fur. It is a good policy to bath your dog or cat while wearing a pair of thick rubber gloves. After washing your pet you should wash yourself utilizing only cold water in order to keep your pores closed.

Often when you find a growth of Poison Ivy, nearby you will see another patch of plants called jewelweed. This plant has been traditionally used by the Native Americans for centers to speed the healing process associated with the Poison Ivy infections. Simply pick some jewelweed and slice the plants stem. Next rub the juice from the stem on your skin. It will facilitate irritation from the Poison Ivy and prevent a spreading. If you can locate a product known as Poison Ivy soaps you would do well to purchase it. This soap contains jewelweed along with additional soothing ingredients like pine tar. If your condition is extremely serious or you are allergic to poison ivy you are advised to contact your family physician.

Copyright @ 2010 Joseph Parish
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