If you think you’ve been exposed to the plant, the sooner you wash your skin as soon as possible, increasing your chance of having little or no reaction. A poison ivy or oak reaction usually takes a day or two to appear, although it could take as little as a few hours or as much as 7-10 days.
So, you think you’ve acquired poison oak or ivy? What do you do now?
1. If you don’t have a poison oak cleanser, Dawn dish soap is great (as it cuts the grease from your dishes, it cuts the urushiol oil off the skin). Use a washcloth and scrub, as friction gets the oils off the skin.
2. Not near a stream or water source? If you have touched poison oak or ivy rub a deodorant stick on it right away. This may help to prevent the oil from spreading anywhere else.
3. Vinegar is another cleansing agent that could help to remove the urushiol.
4. One other “go-to” with the irritation due to exposure is use Listerine on the bad areas, as it dries out immediately.
5. Always remember to use cool water as hot water can open your pores and will speed up the entry of urushiol into the skin.
It may look dead, but the poison oak oil (urushiol) can remain active for a long time. Think about all of the items that you had touched after being affected with poison oak or ivy. You need to remove, wash or dispose of clothes that were worn and possibly touched the oil. Garden tools, backpack, walking stick or shoes will also need to be washed thoroughly with hot soapy water and let the items dry outside for several days.
Did Fido run through the area? Urushiol can stick to their fur, but typically does not irritate their skin, but it can transfer over to yours. This is time to give Fido a really good bath. Grab a good dog shampoo, some safety goggles and gloves and lather and rinse your pup at least 3 times to make sure it is all gone. Use a beach towel and dry Fido off and then throw that towel immediately into the washing machine with your clothes. Allow Fido to fully dry before giving him a squeeze!
Watch out for Contaminated Water
Poison oak and ivy are tricky vines and can spread without you even seeing the plant. Sometimes, the plant may be dangling over or into a stream or pond – and can spread the oils into the water. This can be extremely serious if you swim or bathe in the contaminated water.
Apply a Barrier
Apply a good barrier cream like Ivy-X® Pre-Contact Towelette before exposing yourself to “nature”. Barrier creams seem to be effective in slowing the absorption of the oil into the skin. Follow directions for proper application and removal of the product.
Working outside near brush and dense areas? Use a good glove to protect your hands, but also cover those gloves with a vinyl glove. Oils can seep into a cotton glove, so you don’t want to wear a cotton glove alone. You never want to contract poison oak or ivy onto your hands, as everything you touch, (face, arms, etc.) will be exposed to a possible rash.
DID YOU KNOW?
• 15% of the population has no allergic reaction to urushiol.
• You have a 4-hour window to try to remove the oils.
• A rash appears 1 – 5 days later. It will be itchy at first, then a rash or even blisters.
• It is not contagious, it just can be spread by your touch.
• A rash does not spread – it just mimics all the places you touched when you first encountered it. The thinner-skinned areas will show up first.
• You never burn poison oak or poison ivy. If the smoke is inhaled, a rash can appear on the lining of the lungs, causing extreme pain and possibly fatal respiratory difficulty.
• Lawnmowers and trimmers can also cause the oil to become airborne.
• Poison ivy changes color with the seasons.
o Reddish in the Spring
o Green in the Summer
o Yellow, orange or red in the Fall
• Using a post contact towelette such as Ivy-X®, can help to cleanse away the allergens after contact with poison ivy, poison oak or sumac.
Never forget that the urushiol can remain dormant on all objects for many years. Follow your trail not only with the oils on your skin, but with everything you’ve touched since you’ve developed the oils on your skin.
Get out there and enjoy nature, but keep some IVY-X in your backpack.