Accurate poison ivy identification is the first defense towards not getting the dreaded rash. If you can spot the plant , avoid it, and not touch it you will greatly reduce your chances of getting it. The plant itself looks harmless enough, and birds love to eat the berries. However the allergic rash has made a lot of people miserable.
Coming in contact with the oil in the plant (called Urushiol) is the only thing that causes the rash. The rash won't spread by itching it, and you can't get the rash from someone else. You can only get it by coming in contact with the oil in the leaves or vines.
If the leaves are burnt the oil can be carried through the smoke. Some severe cases of poison ivy rash have occurred this way, both internally and externally.
You may not get the rash if you simply brush against a plant that has not been disturbed (broken leaf). But rubbing against a plant that has been disturbed and is secreting the oil will cause the itching rash. Rarely are the leaves not disturbed in some way.
Some people aren't allergic to the oil in the leaves and can touch it
all day long and won't get the rash. I get the poison ivy rash
terribly. I used to get it often when I was younger.
Once I learned what it looked like my instances of the rash were reduced tremendously.
Poison Ivy can grow in various forms. The plants can be individual, large clumps, or a vine growing up a tree. The leaves can be very small or very large and often vary in size from plant to plant.
Other plants such as virginia creeper are often mistaken for poison ivy. However, the classic look of poison ivy is unmistakable once you know what it looks like. After that you will likely be able to spot it immediately if you are watching carefully.
Look at the pictures below and remember what it looks like. It will save you a lot of itchy aggravation in the future.
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