Saturday, January 9, 2010

Preventing Poison Ivy

Let’s talk a little about preventing poison ivy rashes. This information is perhaps the most important in this whole topic of poison ivy. Why? Simply because if you take proper care and measures, you’ll avoid the excruciating days dealing with the rash and blisters! We’ll take a look at the best ways to prevent this rash.

The first thing you need to do is familiarize with the aspect of poison ivy, of course this will also mean that you need to know if poison ivy is present on your area. Poison ivy is found as a cluster of three smooth leaves that have an almond-like shape. These leaves will alternate on a vine with no torns and the color will vary according to the maturity of the plant, including many shades of green. Of course, it is better to learn by taking a look at pictures. There are many sites online sharing poison ivy pictures and you can find them easily just by searching for images on your preferred search engine.

Once you know what poison ivy looks like, you’ll need to know to prevent properly the rash and minimize the accidents. Keep in mind that even if you know the plant very well you can accidentally touch it! In this respect there’s a nice trick used by workers of the U.S. Forestry Service: they use deodorants on their arms and legs, which is known to prevent urushiol from irritating the skin. This is thanks to an active ingredient called aluminum chlorohydrate.

There are also products designed to prevent the appearance of the rash. Some companies produce creams to be used before coming into contact with plants. I have no personal experience with such creams, so if you have used them it would be very helpful to get more info (just leave it in the comments section!). Alternatively to these methods you can cover your arms and legs with long clothing to minimize the risk of coming in contact with urushiol.

Taking care of the clothing after contact is extremely important to prevent more problems. Did you know that urushiol can remain active for up to five years? That’s scary when you know how bad a rash can get, so be sure to wash well your clothing. If you know you’ve touched the plant, wash the plant within 10 minutes of contact in soapy water; if you can’t do it right away, use rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) and rinse well with water.

Prevention means also avoiding poison ivy spreading. If you get urushiol in your hands you can complicate things by touching your face, mouth, nose or eyelids! Also keep pets inside the house in areas with poison ivy. They can easily carry the toxin on their fur, making them very dangerous!

Finally, do not burn poison ivy. This is yet another way you can get a rash. When the plant is burned, it will release urushiol, triggering the allergic reaction.