Beware of poison ivy this summer

Monday, July 6, 2009

Summer is the time for itchy rashes. Poison ivy is one of the common culprits.

Many of us take advantage of the good weather and go outside to take care of some yard work we have been putting off all spring. The problem comes when we contact poison ivy unknowingly. Just touching a leaf can start a reaction.

All parts (leafs, roots, stems and fruit) of poison ivy can cause a rash. This is due to chemical oil called urushiol. This oil is in every part of the poison ivy plant, which means that it's very easy to come in contact. If you wash an affected area with just water, you risk spreading the oil to other parts of the skin. However, washing with alkali soap can help relieve the spread and discomfort.

It is common practice to put gloves on to pull the poison ivy. It's also good idea to wear long pants, a long sleeve shirt, closed-toe shoes and a hat.

I have heard more than once that even though you were properly dressed you still got poison ivy. One reason may be that you wiped the sweat from your forehead with your gloves. It's important to not touch your skin if you might have poison ivy oil on your gloves.

Getting a reaction near your eyes, nose and mouth can be cause for medical attention.

DO NOT BURN POISON IVY!! Burning poison ivy can be can make you very sick or even cause death in some severe cases. Also, the smoke from burning poison ivy can cause the same skin reaction as direct contact with the plant, but when the oil gets in the air, it can get in to your lungs and nasal cavity and cause major problems. Please take care not to inhale burning poisoning ivy. Don't burn poison ivy no matter how old it is. The oil is still effective after 20 years, so you can still get a reaction from an old dried piece of poison ivy.

You can still get poison ivy even if you haven't been outside. Your pets can bring the oil in on their fur or if you have been around someone who has been burning poison ivy.

It's a good idea before you start any projects that you refresh your familiarity with how to identify poison ivy. The plant can grow as a low shrub and as a vine that climb up your trees. The best way to identify poison ivy is its leaves. They are composed of 3 compound leaves and are generally 2-4 inches long.

Virginia Creeper is commonly mistaken for poison ivy. The leaves of Virginia Creeper have five leaflets and they radiate from one place.

Controlling poison ivy can be a challenge. One of the most effective ways to control poison ivy is pulling by hand when the ground is moist. It is necessary to take all of the roots because it can resprout from pieces left in the ground. The roots also have urushiol and can cause you to have a rash. When you are done, make sure that you wash all of your clothes, gloves and shoes. Make sure to wash out your washing machine when you are done.

When poison ivy is vining around trees, it may be impossible to pull off, so cutting the poison ivy plant from the root and treating the stump with glysphoate or triclopyr can help control the resprouting of the plant. It will take more than one application.

With any herbicide, please read the label and use the product according to the label. If poison ivy has wrapped itself around your prized plant, you can paint individual leaves with herbicide in order to control it.

If you have come in contact with poison ivy, wash the area as soon as possible with soap and cool water. Warm water can make the oil penetrate your skin faster. After washing, you may still get a rash, but at least you have controlled the outbreak. You may need to contact you health provider or pharmacist for treatment methods and products.

If you would like more information, contact Ann Delchambre at 653-8411 or email adelchambre@purdue.edu or facebook Putnam County Agriculture or twitter me at AgAgent.

Upcoming events

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July 14 & 17 -- Aquaculture Workshop Contact 800-735-0195 for information

July17-25 -- Putnam County Fair

July 18 -- Harris Hall Horticulture Single Cut Flower, Container Garden and Miscellaneous Garden Entries 8-11 am

July 20 -- Harris Hall Horticulture Garden, Herbs and Agriculture Entries 8-11 am

July 21 -- Harris Hall Horticulture Artistic Arrangements Entries 8-11 am

July 21-22 -- Nutrition Management Plan Development Wkshp. Contact Corey Gerber at 765-494-375

Aug. 7-22 -- Indiana State Fair

Aug. 18 -- Master Gardener Classes Ann Delchambre at 765-653-8411

Aug. 26-27 -- Drainage 101 Maria Spellman, P O Box 1290, Indianapolis IN 46206-1290