How Can I Prevent Getting Poison Ivy?

Prevention is always better than cure. There a lot of ways to prevent having poison ivy rash. But the very core in preventing yourself from it is to get to know poison ivy. Poison ivy is a plant from the Sumac family. It comes in different forms. It could be a shrub, a climbing vine and a trailing vine/ groundcover. As a shrub, it can grow up to 3.9 feet tall and grows in the open with only one stem and a few side branches. As a climbing vine, it uses its thin, brown, aerial roots to attach itself to the side of the tree. It may reach very high into the sky.

It is in this form where the poison ivy attains its greatest size and may measure as thick as a person’s arm. As a groundcover, it creeps across the ground surface and may grow as high as 10 – 25 centimeters. Poison ivy is characterized by its trifoliate pattern, which means that its stalk contains three leaflets. Two are opposite each other and the other one on the end of the stalk. The leaflets may have teeth at the edge or none at all. Its color may change depending on the season. During early spring the color is red and then turns into a shiny green later in spring.

In autumn, the color is red or orange. Take note that the dark green leaves are the mature ones and they are shiny, while the younger ones are light green in color. The leaflet clusters appear alternately on the vine and it does not have any thorns. During late spring the flowers of poison ivy appear from the leaf axils and they have five petals. Its color is off white with a tinge of yellow or green. When the berry-like fruit ripens during late summer through late fall, the leaflets turn into a bright red color, giving the birds a cue that they may feed on the fruit already. The fruit remains until winter.

Other preventive ways to prevent getting poison ivy:

  1. Wear long pants and long sleeves when going out to areas infested with poison ivy.
  2. Wear socks and shoes that fully cover your feet.
  3. Wear gloves when working on areas with poison ivy. Use plastic gloves over cotton gloves since urushiol may be soaked in the latter.
  4. A barrier cream must be applied an hour before exposure to poison ivy and must be washed off four hours after, then reapplying as necessary. Barrier creams help in slowing down the absorption of urushiol in the skin.
  5. If you brought a pet along with you in going to areas with poison ivy, immediately wash your pet thoroughly with a good pet shampoo. Always put into mind that before doing this, you must wear plastic gloves, make sure your skin is covered and none exposed, wear goggles and if possible, prevent your pet from shaking off especially on the first wash. Wash and rinse your pet thoroughly three times and then towel dry. After, launder the towel immediately in the washing machine.