Leaves of Three, Let them Be!

by

With the summer approaching children and their caregivers will be spending more and more time outdoors. As you visit playgrounds, go on nature walks and play in the backyard, it’s important to know how to recognize poison ivy and to know how to treat it should you or the child in your care come in contact with it.

How do you know if the three leaved plant you see is poison ivy?

• The leaves of poison ivy (and poison oak) appear in clusters of three and are red in the spring, green in summer and yellow, orange, or red in the fall. Poison sumac has 7 to 13 leaves per branch.

• The middle leaf has a longer stem.

• The vein in the middle of the side leaves does not divide the leaf perfectly in half. The section towards the middle leaf of the plant is smaller.

• As a plant it is found close to the ground but it can also grow into a large bush or climbing vine.

• The stems are thorn free but hairy.

• There may be little green and white flowers around May or July and white berry clusters from August to November found on the plant.

While many people think the leaves are what cause the irritating skin reaction that can result from coming into contact with poison ivy, it’s the Urushiol oil found in the plant that is the toxin responsible for the itchy rash that is accompanied by clear blisters.

If you suspect you or the child in your care has come into contact with poison ivy:

• Immediately change clothing

• Rinse the contaminated skin thoroughly with cool water to remove the toxic oil. After you’ve rinsed the skin, use soap and water to cleanse it. Be careful not to scrub the skin or use hot water as this can cause the skins pores to open more and absorb the oil easier.

• Contact the doctor to discuss a treatment plan which may include an evaluation or the use of oral or topical antihistamines.

For more information visit http://www.poison-ivy.org and http://poisonivy.aesir.com/view .

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