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Monday, February 22, 2010

Poisoned Ivy

Spring is on its way and with those rising temperatures the urge to spend some time in the outdoors increases as well. There is nothing more pleasant then seeing the new buds on the trees, the sprouting of plants which covers them in a soft, green veil and the first blooms taking away the dreariness of winter. Yes, spring is in the air!

It also means we have to be watchful for what can potentially be harmful. Besides the dangerous critters, there are some plants coming back to life which should be avoided at any costs, like poisoned ivy.

Contrary to what the name suggests, this vine is not lethal. It causes a severe rash resulting in itching, discoloration and even blistering of the skin. It is not something you would like to go through.

In case the rash is not too blistering, you can buy over-the-counter products which will ease the itching, but applying oatmeal baths and/or baking soda on the affected area seem to be just as effective. When ending up with blisters, it is best to see a doctor and get medication for it.

Neither the rash nor the fluid from the blisters is contagious. Direct contact with the plant will cause the skin irritation, but be aware: even when the oil of the plant is just on your clothes, any contact with your skin will have the same effect. The advice is wearing gloves upon removal of your clothes and to wash them immediately.

The vine can be found all through the States and grows either up or as a ground cover. Young leaves are red, turning green in summer and back to red in fall again. Recognizing poisoned ivy is rather difficult, but when you come across a plant which has three leaves, an alternate leaf arrangement and no thorns, you better not take any risk.

Leaves of three; let them be!

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