Exposure to poison ivy can be a truly annoying if not painful experience-as anyone who has suffered from it will tell you. Once your skin has been exposed, it seems to take on a life of its own: a painful, itchy rash that spreads quickly, is easily irritated, and is very contagious-both from person to person as well as from body part to body part. Whether you have experienced poison ivy exposure before or not, knowing the simple ways in which to prevent this condition is absolutely imperative. This can save you weeks of maddening skin irritation, money on medicated creams, and overall hassle with the condition.
Here’s how to avoid the plant altogether from interrupting your life:
1. Know How to Identify It- Probably the most key aspect of avoiding poison ivy exposure is to be able to recognize the plant itself, and therefore limit contact. Poison ivy is typically found in vines and shrubs outdoors, and has three unmistakeable shiny leaves. Though it is very hard to confuse poison ivy with another plant, if in doubt, you should just avoid the plant in question altogether.
2. Know Its Habitat- Whether you live in areas where poison ivy is grown or are traveling to somewhere new, knowing where poison ivy is likely to grow is necessary to avoiding it. Most commonly, you will find the plant in wooded areas that receive little to no sunlight.
3. Dress to Protect- If you know that you will be spending time outdoors-whether for a casual walk with the dog or perhaps a more intensive all-day hike, try to cover exposed skin by wearing pants and long sleeved shirts, etc. Moreover, it is also advised to wear hiking boots and thick socks to protect your ankles and feet. The less exposed skin, the less room for possible exposure.
5. Launder- Most people forget that their clothes can carry the poison ivy poison, and don’t treat their clothes following contact. Make sure to wash all clothes worn while outdoors-whether you think they have been compromised or not. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
6. Shower- Washing not just your clothes but also yourself is also another preventative measure in making sure your contact with poison ivy is as limited as possible. After time spent outdoors where the plant might have been, ensure to immediately take a shower and wash all possibly affected areas thoroughly.
7. Lotion- There are a number of lotions on the market to not only treat poison ivy exposure but also to act as a shield against exposure. Apply poison ivy lotion and lather on thoroughly for extra protection.