Leaves of Three Let Them Be
Written by Clinical Marketing Students: Taylor Mills, Rebecca Reeve, Sarah Ruggles, Tonia Hall-Wade
“Leaves of three, let them be.” Well it’s that time again! Poison ivy, oak, and sumac are back and everyone should take care when going outside. There are certain practices that could help prevent coming into contact with these plants. Identification is key! Both poison ivy and oak have three leaves per cluster of leaves, while poison sumac can have 7 to 13 leaves per branch. If you do come into contact with one of these plants, it is very important to wash the area first by rinsing with rubbing alcohol and then washing with soap and water to remove any of the oil left on your skin and remove and launder any clothing. Only by coming into direct contact with the urushiol oil from the plants will you contract the rash. Use caution while burning and mowing around these plants because it will cause the oil to become airborne. That allows the oil to be inhaled into the lungs. If this happens and you begin to feel short of breath or your throat feels swollen go to the emergency room immediately. If the rash is located around your mouth or genital areas you should to go to the emergency room for treatment also.
Urushiol oil stays active on any surface, including dead plants, for up to 5 years. So even if the plant seems to be dead, it is still possible to contract the rash if you come into contact with it. The rash is able to spread, not only on the person who first contracted it, but also to anyone that person touches if the oil remains on their skin. You can contract the rash if you come into contact with a surface that has the oil on it such as clothing or equipment.
There are several over the counter products that can aid in prevention and relief for poison ivy/oak/sumac rashes.
- Zanafel Poison Ivy Wash
- For use to relieve itching and pain after contracting the rash
- Cortaid Poison Ivy Care Treatment Kit
- Includes a removal scrub to wash away any remaining oil and can be used to prevent or relieve rashes.
- Extra Strength Benadryl Itch Stopping Cream
- For use to temporarily relieve itching and pain from rash
- Aveeno Skin Relief Bath Treatment
- Uses 100% pure natural colloidal oatmeal to soothe rashes
- Aveeno 1% Hydrocortisone Anti-Itch Cream
- Uses oatmeal, aloe, and vitamin E to relieve pain and itching.
- Aveeno Calamine & Pramoxine HCl Anti-Itch Cream
- Contains oatmeal and calamine for fast temporary relief.
- Burt’s Bees Poison Ivy Soap
- Contains jewelweed to naturally relieve irritation.
- Comes in either a foam or cream form and is used for prevention and relief from rashes.
- Includes IvyBlock to prevent rashes by blocking the oil from contacting your skin, IvyCleanse to remove the oil from your skin once you have come into contact with it, and IvySoothe to relieve itch from poison ivy/oak/ sumac rashes.
If you have any questions on which medications would be best for you, ask your local Fruth pharmacist!