Poison Ivy Comes A'Creepin'

Today we were cleaning out some thickets and brambles and, of course, we came across some poison ivy.  I always keep an eye out for it. The first step in preventing an allergic reaction is to know what it looks like and avoid coming in contact with it.

You've probably heard descriptions of poison ivy since you were very young.  You know the saying, "Leaves of three, leave it be!"  Poison ivy does have sets of three leaves, but so do a lot of other plants.  Here are some tips on recognizing poison ivy:
  1. The leave are usually dark green, smooth and shiny, but can be different shapes: rounded, lobed, jagged.
  2. The leaves are in sets of three with two opposite each other and one at the tip.
  3. The stems are smooth, not prickly or thorny.
  4. The sets of three leaves are placed alternately on the vine, not directly opposite each other.
The plants can be in clusters on the ground or vining on trees and structures.

If you know you're going to be working in an area where there may be poison ivy, wear clothes that cover your arms and legs.  Wear rubber gloves and boots as the oils from the plant can penetrate through fabric.  The oils can bind with your skin in 10 to 30 minutes, so be sure to wash up quickly.  Wash your tools and boots with soapy water, throw away your gloves, and wash your clothes. The oil can stay active on these objects for a long time, even years.

Take a shower immediately, washing thoroughly with soap.  This may be an old wives' tale, but I figure old wives have been around long enough to know what they're talking about, so I swear by it.  After I've been around poison ivy, I shower with Fels Naptha soap.  I even wash my scalp with it and then follow up with my regular shampoo and conditioner.

And the last ounce of prevention for getting poison ivy is provided by God himself.  It's Jewelweed, a native plant of North American that often grows where soil is moist and, ironically, poison and ivy and Jewelweed are usually found in the same area.

The thick lower stem of the Jewelweed is filled with a liquid.  Cut a stem off at the base and release the liquid onto your clean skin on areas that may have been exposed to poison ivy.  You can slice the stem open and rub the moist lining on your skin as well.

Jewelweed grows in moist soil, has long stems, smooth, round leaves, and small, pretty orange blooms. The leaves and juice from the stems are a folk remedy for prevention and treatment of poison ivy, skin rashes, burns, bruises, and insect bites.  You can boil the chopped leaves and stems of Jewelweed until you get a dark orange liquid.  Strain the liquid and freeze it in ice cube trays.  When you have a skin rash, bruise, scratch, or insect bite, you can rub it with one of the cubes for immediate relieve.

I've been married for 36 years, so I guess that qualifies me as an old wife and allows me to share old wives' tales.  For what it's worth. I tried these remedies for prevention of poison ivy rash today.  I'll let you know!

Disclaimer:  Dial Corporation, in its own caution use sheet, stated that Fels-Naptha is a skin irritant and not to be used directly on skin.

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