If you spend any time at all outside this summer, you’ll likely come across poison ivy (rhus radicans). The chemicals in poison ivy can cause redness, rashes, itching, and blistering. For some people, symptoms can be mild. Others may have a much stronger reaction.
All parts of the plant are toxic all year round. Touch poison ivy—or come in contact with animals, clothes, or equipment that have touched the plant—and oils can transfer to your skin.
Poison ivy’s look and texture vary, so correctly identifying the plant can be tricky. Avoid poison ivy by following the old saying, “Leaflets three, let it be.” You might hurt the feelings of some innocent plants, but it’s better to be safe than extremely itchy.
If you suspect you have contacted poison ivy, wash your skin with cold water as soon as possible. Washing with soap and water within 30 minutes can help. Wash your clothes with detergent. Remember that only the plant’s oils are toxic; the fluid from blisters is non-allergenic. Many over-the-counter products are designed to ease poison ivy’s effects. Your physician can select the appropriate treatment.
Repeated mowing and cutting back poison ivy to ground level eventually will control the plant. You can also use herbicides, if properly applied.
Source: The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, www.caes.uga.edu/Publications/pubDetail.cfm?pk_id=7647&pg=np&ct=867&kt=&kid=&pid=