from our friends at Georgia CPR:
Poison Ivy: Don’t Let It Ruin Your Child’s Summer!
I remember being a kid, tromping through the woods in the glorious summer. Hide and go seek and any number of military games no longer PC were staples of childhood play in the outdoors. The green of the trees, cool breezes and the smell of fireworks on July 4th color nostalgic memories for me. And then there was always the Poison Ivy.
Bouts of Poison Ivy were a commonplace occurrence during my childhood. Several precious summers were marred with weeks of being covered with the itchy rash. I could never seem to recognize that awful plant that brought me such agony. Poison Ivy is just plain old fashioned bad. I feel itchy even writing this!
Georgia CPR teaches first aid topics in our CPR and First Aid classes, but we don’t usually cover information on Poison Ivy. I want to give you information to help you avoid Poison Ivy and treat it with the best stuff I know available on the market.
Recognizing Poison Ivy
Recognizing Poison Ivy isn’t hard once you get the hang of it. Poison Ivy, and Poison Oak look similar. Poison Ivy has pointier leaves and Poison Oak leaves are a bit more, well – dumpy. Just not as pointy. Be wary of both.
Poison Ivy can be of any color, from bright green to bright red, yellow, brownish and anywhere in between. But it’s the shape that will give it away.
Here’s a nice list for recognizing Poison Ivy:
- Sets of 3 leaves
- Leaves have large jags on them
- Can be any color that a plant would be – (haven’t seen blue yet)
- Any part of the plant will ruin your day!
What makes Poison Ivy “poisonous” is an irritating oil called Urushiol. It is a toxic oil that is present in live or dead Poison Ivy leaves, stems or vines. Yes, you can get Poison Ivy in the winter too. No fair.
Recognize Poison Ivy and Poison Oak and avoid touching it even with your shoes or clothing. That nasty Urushiol will get onto your clothing and will continue to give you the rash until you wash it off. Leather will hold that oil even longer, which is an unfortunate downside to leather boots.
If you or your child, or your pet comes into contact with Poison Ivy, IMMEDIATELY wash thoroughly with soap and COLD water. Warmer water opens pores leaving skin more vulnerable to Urushiol penetration and irritation. Washing with plain old soap and cold water can be really effective in stopping a bad case of poison ivy before it starts. But the treatment I recommend below works better.
Poison Ivy Treatment
In my experience with safety, I come across products that I love and then promote them. Sometimes I even sell them. Georgia CPR doesn’t sell Poison Ivy treatment, nor are we paid to endorse one. We will simply recommend a treatment that simply works.
The brand is called Tecnu. Their original product is my favorite. I would describe their product as a urushiol remover. It removes the toxin from your skin before a rash appears and in my experience, stops the rash from getting any worse once its already there.
No – I haven’t completed a scientific study. I did work for a tree service for years and we would order this product in really big bottles by the case. It works better than a charm in that it actually works.
Heres’ the basic Tecnu instructions
Before a rash appears:
- Put the Tecnu on the area of skin that contacted poison ivy
- Rub it vigorously for about 2 minutes – don’t forget to cover all possible exposed parts
- Rinse it off with cool running water
If you already have a Poison Ivy Rash:
- Put the Tecnu directly onto the rash as well as on the skin around it
- Rub for 2 minutes – which feels great – but don’t break the skin or blisters!
- Rinse if off with cool water
- Pat dry with a clean towel
- If you are still itchy – repeat the process except then rinse in a very warm shower.
- Don’t do this in a bath silly – they you would be steeping in urushiol!
If you can recognize and avoid Poison Ivy – that’s the best.
If you can’t and end up with a rash – use the Tecnu
Save that awesome summer and send the specter of poison ivy to bed without dinner!
The article above is posted with permission from Georgia CPR.