Poison ivy Facts and How to Identify it in Southern Maryland
Poison ivy is not uncommon in southern Maryland. It is a great idea to be able to identify this plant on your own while spending time outdoors within your yard or in one of the many beautiful outdoor spaces available for public enjoyment in South Maryland.
How to identify poison ivy
Poison ivy can be difficult to identify as it can look a lot like other plants that it grows near, but there are four characteristics of a poison ivy plant that can help you to identify it and protect yourself from an irritating encounter and a rash.
First, a poison ivy plant has leaf clusters with three leaflets.
Second, the three-leaf clusters grow on their own stem and connect to the main vine of the plant. There are two leaves directly alternate of each other and the third is a bit more separated sticking straight forward from the center of where the other two leaves meet.
Third, the veining in poison ivy leaves is staggered in an alternate arrangement.
Fourth, poison ivy does not have any thorns.
Some interesting poison ivy facts
Poison ivy is a plant known to cause an irritating rash called urushiol-induced contact dermatitis in humans.
Poison ivy is a part of a genus of plants that contains or produces the oil urushiol. Contact with the oil is what causes an irritating rash.
Poison ivy grows throughout the entire continent of North America and in some parts of China
The well-known rash that is caused by poison ivy does not appear until 24 to 72 hours after your skin comes in contact with the irritating oil that poison ivy produces.
Not everyone that comes in contact with poison ivy will get a rash. The reaction from the oil that causes the rash varies greatly from human to human. Some people have a very severe reaction while others actually have no reaction at all.
Pets do not get irritated by poison ivy only humans and primates. If your pet comes in contact with the irritating oil from poison ivy it could transfer to your skin and cause irritation to you. If your pet comes in contact with poison ivy you will want to give them a bath as soon as possible while your skin is protected with gloves and clothing.
The poison ivy plant has several different subspecies as well, some grow as a shrub some are a trailing vine, and others grow along with structures like classic ivy or up a tree.
It is not a good idea to try and remove poison ivy from your yard by burning it. The oil that is produced by the ivy causing irritation can travel with the smoke. This can cause severe pain in the eyes, nose, and throat. It can also still come in to contact with the skin through smoke.
The best way to remove poison ivy is from its roots. When attempting to do so make sure your hands arms and legs are completely covered as to keep it from coming in contact with any of your skin. Dispose of poison ivy in a trash bag and make sure to wash all clothing and be extremely careful when handling these clothes to avoid transferring any oil to your skin.
Treating a poison ivy rash
If you have come into contact with poison ivy it is recommended that you take the clothes off that you were wearing and thoroughly wash them. Next, you will want to rinse your skin with lukewarm soapy water to wash off all of the oil that produces the rash. If the oil is not washed off it can spread from person to person and to other areas of your body that have not been exposed to the oil.
Apart from washing the area with soap and water the rest of the treatment really has to do with trying to keep yourself as comfortable as possible until your body has gone through its natural healing process which will take anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks.
Some things you can do to help make yourself more comfortable include:
Taking short oatmeal or baking soda bath. Adding these things to some lukewarm water can help to soothe the itch of the rash.
Using calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream. These topical ointments can offer some itch relief to a mild case of poison ivy rash.
Using cool compresses. Grabbing a clean washcloth and getting it damp with cold water and applying it to the irritated area of skin can help to soothe the area.
Take an anti-histamine. The second that you know you have been exposed to poison ivy it can be helpful to take an antihistamine right away to try to lessen the body’s allergic response to the irritating oils of poison ivy. Some long-acting antihistamines like Zyrtec and Xyzal and Allegra can be especially helpful.
If you have a huge rash, are insanely itchy, or are having difficulty breathing or experiencing other signs of an extreme allergic reaction, you should seek medical attention right away.
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