With summer approaching, watch out for poison ivy

June 18, 2013 1:55:59 PM PDT
The official start of summer is just around the corner and that means more time outside, which also means watch out for poison ivy.

There are some tips to keep the dreaded plant from ruining your summer fun.

It grows on the edge of fields and forests. They're called "Leaves of Three", and you and your kids should let them be.

"Make sure that you are looking at pictures with your children, looking at them on the Internet or in a book, so that they can recognize what poison ivy looks like," said Dr. Emma Raizman of the Cleveland Clinic.

The misery of poison ivy happens when the oil from the plant gets on your skin.

"I had some beautiful ground cover and I didn't know there'd be poison ivy in there. I walked through it and got it," said poison ivy victim Paula Wood.

But that rash can show up hours or even days later, so even if you think you or your kids were exposed, better safe than sorry.

"If you can get to them in the first 10 or 15 minutes after you have been exposed or think you have been exposed, what you want to do is take rubbing alcohol and then after you want to do a whole wash with soap and water," said Dr. Raizman.

Unless it's washed off, that oil can linger sometimes for years on just about any surface.

So you also want to wash the clothes you were wearing, wash the gardening tools, even your pet's fur.

If you know you'll be in contact with poison ivy, skip the flip flops.

Wear shoes, pants, long sleeves and gloves.

You can also try a product like Ivy Block.

It is FDA approved and blocks the poison ivy oil from being absorbed by your skin.

Even better: make someone else do the dirty work.

"My son was about 5 years old his big brother always made him go into the woods to get the ball that went into the woods," said Mark Horowitz. "We knew there was poison ivy in there and his big brother knew that so that's why he made him go get it."

If you have the rash, do not use an antihistamine ointment on it. You can actually make it worse.

You do want to see your doctor if the rash covers more than a quarter of your body, if it spreads to your eyes or mouth.

And if you have a fever or other signs of infection, there are prescription medications that can lessen the misery.

LINKS FOR MORE INFORMATION ON POISON IVY: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/UCM143611.pdf