Warmer weather brings with it more time spent outdoors. And even though southern winters are relatively mild and short, we’re just as excited as anyone to get back outside into the sunshine and warmer temperatures. Golfing, camping, hiking, or taking care of the yard may all be on the to-do list, but all of these activities can result in poison ivy, oak, or sumac.
What Makes Poison Ivy So Poisonous
First of all, not everyone is allergic to poison ivy, or, more specifically, the oil it secretes known as urushiol. It’s actually this oil that causes the allergic reaction in most people (estimated at around 85% of the U.S. population). It’s possible you aren’t susceptible, but don’t bet on it.
A Caution on Burning Poison Ivy
The rash itself isn’t contagious, so you can’t catch it another person. However, you CAN get it from touching pets, tools, or clothing that has come into contact with the oil. Trying to rid your property of poison ivy by burning it can lead to even more serious issues, as the flames release particles that may reach the eyes, nose, or even into the lungs.
How to Survive the Rash
If you do find that you’ve come into contact with poison ivy, you should wash the affected area as soon as you can with warm water and a mild soap. In addition, don’t forget to wash everything you were wearing or touched at the time (pets included!). Calamine lotion purchased at your local pharmacy can help with the itch for mild cases, as well as any topical ointment your doctor may recommend.