Last updated: July 08. 2014 6:06PM - 524 Views
By - kgerhardt@civitasmedia.com



Photo by Harold JerrellPoison ivy is a three-leaved plant that can cause an allergic reaction including severe itching and hive-like symptoms.
Photo by Harold JerrellPoison ivy is a three-leaved plant that can cause an allergic reaction including severe itching and hive-like symptoms.
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High temperatures are not the only dangers lurking outdoors this summer.


It is important to remember to keep your eyes open to your surroundings and to avoid poison ivy, oak and sumac while enjoying or working outdoors.


Poison ivy, sumac and oak plants are abundant throughout Appalachia and can be seen growing everywhere from your backyard to hiking trails in the parks.


Urushiol oil is present on the leaves and vines of the plant. It will cause an allergic reaction if you come into contact with it. These oils can cause an itchy rash or burning sensation that could spread to different parts of your body.


“Rinsing the area exposed with only water will not get rid of the oils and could spread the oils to the surrounding skin. Ordinary dish soap is very effective in removing the oil from both skin and clothes,” said Dr. Elizabeth Douglas with the ARH Middlesboro Clinic.


If you find yourself with a poison ivy, sumac or oak irritation it is important to thoroughly wash and treat the affected area with an anti-histamine cream or gel which can be purchased at local drug stores and other businesses.


“For severe rashes, a longer course of oral steroids may be necessary to treat rather than a single steroid shot or pack. This longer treatment course has been proven to prevent the rash from rebounding or coming back worse than it was before the short steroid course,” said Douglas.


“Leaves of three — let it be” is a saying that rings true when determining if a plant is poison ivy. If you are unsure, it is best to stay away from the plant to avoid a potentially itchy situation.


Kelsey Gerhardt may be reached at 606-302-9093 or on Twitter @kgerhardtmbdn.

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