Treachery In the Great Outdoors

Poison ivy, oak, sumac easy to find, hard to identify

Posted: July 2, 2014 at 1:30 a.m.

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was April 2002. I was looking forward to high school graduation and heading off to college but, more importantly, my senior prom.

Fast Facts

Poison Ivy


• Always has three leaves

• Never has thorns

• Leaves can be notched or smooth but not saw-toothed

• Leave clusters alternate, are not symmetrical

• Leaves can be small, large, shiny, dull, red, green, yellow, smooth or rough

— Source:

Fast Facts

Signs or symptoms associated with dermal contact with poisonous plants may include:

• Red rash within a few days of contact

• Possible bumps, patches, streaking, or weeping blisters (blister fluids are not contagious)

• Swelling

• Itching

— Source: Centers for Disease Control

Fast Facts


Prevention is the best way to avoid the painful rash that comes with poison ivy and poison oak exposure. If working or playing outside, take these steps protect your skin:

• Wear long sleeves, long pants, boots, and gloves.

• Wash exposed clothing separately in hot water with detergent.

• Barrier skin creams, such as a lotion containing bentoquatum, may offer some protection before contact.

• Barrier creams should be washed off and reapplied twice a day.

• After use, clean tools with rubbing alcohol (isopropanol or isopropyl alcohol) or soap and lots of water. Urushiol can remain active on the surface of objects for up to 5 years. Wear disposable gloves during this process.

•Do not burn plants that may be poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac. Inhaling smoke from burning plants can cause severe allergic respiratory problems.

— Source: Centers for Disease Control

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