Some Important Facts About Poison Ivy

By: lynter
Poison Ivy. You remember it from when you were a child, right? It usually calls up memories of that burning red, itchy leg or arm. But there's a lot more going on with the well-known plant and we'll go into all of the details here. By the time we're through, you'll have all the facts and even some of the myths.

Poison Ivy is part of the Toxicodendron Genus, but did you know that it's a member of the same family as the cashew? We wouldn't suggest making it part of your next party's finger-food, though! It's also in the same family as the Japanese Lacquer, even though the two countries are thousands of miles apart. It's also quite common for a person who is allergic to any plant in this family to exhibit severe reactions to Poison Ivy.

Poison Ivy can be found growing in three forms - as a woody shrub, as a trailer running along the ground or as a woody vine. The vine is often seen growing on trees or other objects for support. It is capable of adapting to its environment, which is how it can grow in the deepest forest or the tamest suburban backyard.

For safety reasons, and for your personal knowledge, it's important for you to be able to identify Poison Ivy when you see it. You could say it's a sociable plant since it tends to grow in groups of three and also because it usually grows next to other small shrubs. You should be able to see that the actual leaves have a slightly glossy look to them.

In the summertime, it will be easy for you to see the yellowish tint in the leaves accompanied by green berries. It may look harmless, but remember - it's first name is POISON. That poison is an oily chemical carried in the resin, called Urushiol. It can be found in similar forms in most plants of this Genus. Urushiol is such a powerful chemical that it can even thrive on dead or decaying plants. Mild skin contact can trigger dangerous allergic reactions in some people.

Adverse symptoms usually begin to appear within 12 hours of initial contact or they don't occur at all. It is possible, though, for there to be a delayed skin response. On one hand, there may be no evidence of contact with Poison Ivy or it may take up to 10 full days to see the symptoms appear. Other times, a few minor instances of contact have a cumulative effect on the skin.

The most common skin reactions manifest in the form of a rash with lines or streaks and, in more extreme reactions, you may also find blisters or hives. The reaction is a type of contact dermatitis or skin disorder caused by surface contact rather than by
ingesting something.

If your skin does begin to exhibit the typical symptoms of contact with Poison Ivy, there are a number of useful methods you can use to counteract it.

First and foremost, wash the affected area with soap and water as soon as possible. You can also buy an anti-itching cream such as calamine lotion or a hydrocortisone cream. Secondly, try to get rid of the resin residue from your dress and shoes. Sometimes you will find the resin of the Poison Ivy sticking in your nails. Remove that as well as it would lead to a further rash.

Keep your body itch-free by applying cold compresses to keep it cool. You could also use antihistamines like Allerga to stop your itching. More severe cases may require the expert knowledge of a physician. He or she will be able to provide a stronger topical or even a steroid injection where necessary.

Poison Ivy needs to be eradicated from the surroundings considering the painful allergy it causes. This can be done by the popular methods of hand pulling, using herbicide and smothering the plant. The method of hand pulling is the easiest provided you are geared up with the right arsenal or you might just end up with a severe rash. Herbicide is recommended for vines and smothering is good for woody shrubs.

Summary:

Poison Ivy is a well-adapted plant that is found mainly in the Midwest and in the eastern regions of the U.S. It can be found in environments as wild as the deepest forest or areas as tame as suburban backyards. It usually grows near other small shrubs. Typical symptoms include rashes with lines or streaks or even blisters and hives in more severe cases. The skin's reaction to the poison is a type of contact dermatitis.
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