Tenderfoot Requirement 11: Identify Local Poisonous Plants; tell how to treat for exposure to them
Poison ivy is not your friend. All parts of the plant (leaves, stems, roots, berries) contain a toxic oil which binds to your skin, or your coat, shoes, dog fur, or anything it comes in contact with. It causes a nasty rash and blisters which can be spread all over your body by scratching, and can last for weeks. The toxic oil can be washed off with soap and water immediately after contact, but if it stays in contact with your skin for more than a few minutes it becomes chemically bound and cannot be washed off. There are several products on the market which are more effective for removing the oil than regular soap, if used promptly. If you get it on your clothing, boots, gloves, etc. it will stay there for a long time - a year or more - so you can "catch the itch" long after you have been in the woods. Some people seem to be "immune" to its ill effects, but beware - any one can become sensitized, even if you have not been sensitive before. The best strategy is to learn to recognize this plant in all its various forms, and at all times of year, and AVOID IT!
Prevention: Avoid contact! Learn to recognize this plant in
all its many variations and avoid it. Barrier creams like Ivy
Block can be applied several hours before exposure.
Treatment: Wash as soon as possible after exposure; some non-prescriptions
soaps claim to remove the irritating oil better than regular soap.
Don't scratch - it may spread oils shortly after contact and
may rupture skin and cause bacterial inferctions.
Relief of symptoms (itching): Non-prescription topical hydrocortisone products (0.25% to 0.5% active ingredient), such as Cortaid, CaldeCort, or Lanacort. Some people claim the crushed leaves of Aloe or crushed stems of Jewel Weed relieve itching.