I've got poison ivy. Bad. About a week ago, I noticed a small spot on my forearm that itched. Over the course of the next week, it started popping up all over both my arms and hands, and two days ago, it appeared on my face. Yes, that's right - the left side of my face looks like I've got a severe case of hives and if it progresses to look like some of the blistered areas on my hands and arms, I'll be quite attractive for Jenna's wedding on the 17th.
Where did I get it? I'm certain it was in my very own hometown. Romie and I had gone back to dig the mullein we'd seen when we walked the old railroad bed back in January. We found some wild geraniums growing and blooming and of course, I had to have some. I noticed the poison ivy beginning to grow in various places there, but I didn't see any where we were digging. I was the one that actually got down and dirty, putting the plants into the container. Romie just wielded the spade.
So, you see, even if you think you're being careful, you can get burned. This is what the little finger on my right hand looks like. Now imagine that, spread all over my hands and arms. Actually, that's one of the more "attractive" spots. Some of the others have gotten quite a bit uglier, but I thought I'd spare you.
- The offending substance in poison ivy is urushiol and it's so potent that only ¼ ounce of it would be enough to infect every single person on earth.
- Poison ivy only grows in the eastern United States, so you can get away from it by moving to California, where they have poison oak.
- One to five years is the normal length of time for urushiol to stay active on any surface.
- You cannot get poison ivy from another person unless they still have the urushiol on their skin. It also doesn't spread by opening the blisters. It's only spread by the oil from the plant itself.
- 90% of the population is allergic to urushiol.
There are many remedies out there for the intense itching poison ivy causes. I discovered my own personal method of dealing with it by accident. I like to take very hot showers and I found that exposing the affected area to the hottest water I could stand eventually caused the itching to stop. At first, it itches worse than ever, then it just stops.
Of course, the best way to not get poison ivy is to not come in contact with it. But you have to know what it looks like. It's grouped in three leaves on a stem, many times with a reddish color (but not always), and it doesn't always grow as a vining plant. Sometimes it's just a normal plant on the ground, growing approximately 6-12 inches tall.
A great site for more information about poison ivy is the Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Information Center, where much of the information in this post is from.