Spring has sprung…poison ivy!

May 21, 2008

After my son contracted a mild but annoying case of poison ivy this week I decided it’s time to figure out once and for all what the nasty stuff looks like. Most of us have heard “leaves of three, let it be” but correctly identifying poison ivy can be tricky. The website “What Poison Ivy Looks Like” has pictures of it in different growth stages and in different settings as well as pictures of particularly gruesome rashes that people have gotten from it.  There’s a poison ivy poster, a fact page and a quiz on the website.  But the “Skin Rash Hall of Fame” is not for the queasy. I had no idea it could get that bad.  The site states the following in reference to the severity of reacitons:

According to the Wall Street Journal, research soon to be published in Weed Science (is your subscription up to date?) indicates that poison ivy has gotten MUCH nastier since the 1950’s. Leaf size and nasty oil content are way up.

The American Academy of Dermatology has a page dedicated to education about Poison Ivy, Sumac and Oak with pictures to help identify all three.

Your best bet is always to avoid it, but stocking up on some cortizone cream is not a bad idea if you plan to garden or play outside.  Severe reactions require the attention of a doctor.


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