Exposure to poison ivy can be a truly annoying
if not painful experience-as anyone who has suffered from it will tell you.
Once your skin has been exposed, it seems to take on a life of its own: a
painful, itchy rash that spreads quickly, is easily irritated, and is very
contagious-both from person to person as well as from body part to body part.
Whether you have experienced poison ivy exposure before or not, knowing the
simple ways in which to prevent this condition is absolutely imperative. This can
save you weeks of maddening skin irritation, money on medicated creams, and
overall hassle with the condition.
Here’s how to
avoid the plant altogether from interrupting your life:
1. Know How to Identify It- Probably
the most key aspect of avoiding poison ivy exposure is to be able to recognize
the plant itself, and therefore limit contact. Poison ivy is typically found in
vines and shrubs outdoors, and has three unmistakeable shiny leaves. Though it
is very hard to confuse poison ivy with another plant, if in doubt, you should
just avoid the plant in question altogether.
2. Know Its Habitat- Whether you live in areas where poison ivy is
grown or are traveling to somewhere new, knowing where poison ivy is likely to
grow is necessary to avoiding it. Most commonly, you will find the plant in
wooded areas that receive little to no sunlight.
3. Dress to Protect- If you know
that you will be spending time outdoors-whether for a casual walk with the dog
or perhaps a more intensive all-day hike, try to cover exposed skin by wearing
pants and long sleeved shirts, etc. Moreover, it is also advised to wear hiking
boots and thick socks to protect your ankles and feet. The less exposed skin,
the less room for possible exposure.
4. Wash, Wash, Wash- Even if you don’t think that you have rubbed against the poison ivy
plant, it never hurts to wash your exposed skin thoroughly with soap and water.
Poison ivy is one of those conditions that you do not know if you have until it
you are itchy and then it is too late to prevent. Though any soap is better
than none, choosing one especially for poison ivy contact may be more effective.
5. Launder- Most people forget that their clothes can
carry the poison ivy poison, and don’t treat their clothes following contact.
Make sure to wash all clothes worn while outdoors-whether you think they have
been compromised or not. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
6. Shower- Washing not just your
clothes but also yourself is also another preventative measure in making sure
your contact with poison ivy is as limited as possible. After time spent
outdoors where the plant might have been, ensure to immediately take a shower
and wash all possibly affected areas thoroughly.
7. Lotion- There are a number of lotions on the market
to not only treat poison ivy exposure but also to act as a shield against
exposure. Apply poison ivy lotion and lather on thoroughly for extra