5 On Your Side

5 on Your Side has tips to avoid poison ivy

Posted October 28, 2019 7:07 p.m. EDT

— Leaves of three, leave them be.

Otherwise, serious itching you will see.

Yes, poison ivy is still a threat into the fall.

Some scientists believe we're seeing more severe cases because of global warming and longer growing seasons.

Experts say prevention is key to avoid the plant.

“It can be probably trickier to identify poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, than you might think," said Consumer Reports Health Editor Catherine Roberts. "All these plants can appear differently, depending on the area of the country they’re in, the time of year, the weather.”

Not good considering that just brushing up against poison ivy can deposit its oily coating, called urushiol, onto your skin.

That oil is what makes poison ivy, poisonous.

“Only folks who are allergic to one of these plants will react, but most people are allergic," Roberts said. "And it can happen immediately, right after you’re exposed or it can take up to four days for the rash, the swelling, the blisters, to appear.”

Long sleeves and pants can help with prevention.

But if you think you’ve been exposed, 5 On Your Side says wash with soap and water immediately.

"You also want to wash your clothes, your gardening tools even your dog," Roberts said. "That residual oil can transmit the rash and the oil can linger for years.”

You don’t want a mysterious repeat encounter!

At home, oatmeal baths and cool compresses can offer some relief.

If that's not working, you might want to see a dermatologist.

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