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Tag Archive | "poison ivy"

Beware of poison ivy

Richard Cone, of Sparta, cut down this tree with a large poison ivy vine growing on it.

Richard Cone, of Sparta, cut down this tree with a large poison ivy vine growing on it.

Richard Cone, of Camp Lake, near Sparta, found out the hard way that getting rid of poison ivy can be a tricky business. Cone recently cut down a tree in his yard, and attached to it was a poison ivy vine that he said measured 8 inches in diameter. The woody vine looked like a tree branch on top of the tree. He said he was using a chainsaw, and woodchips were flying everywhere, which meant he got the poison ivy oil on his clothes and hands.

“I used some Dawn dish soap to scrub the oil off, and the rash was gone in a couple of days,” he said.

We sent the photo of the poison ivy vine to Ranger Steve Mueller. He said that if it was poison ivy, then it was larger than he had seen before. He couldn’t positively identify it from the photo. “It looks like it might be ivy covering a woody stem of something else but I can not tell from the picture,” he said.

“I have seen large ivy vines that are about three inches in diameter and climb high into trees. Ivies in southern Michigan grow larger than I typically see in our area. I have seen quite a large one but do not recall if I have seen any 8 inches in diameter.”

This photo from WebMD shows the leaves of poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac.

This photo from WebMD shows the leaves of poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac.

The Post did, however, find similar photos of poison ivy vines in an online search.

Mueller said that he would cut the ivy vine at the base of the tree with branch pruners and not remove the vine from the tree. It will grow from the ground again. “After cutting the ivy, it is good to wipe the cutting blade with some bleach. Wear disposable protective gloves,” he cautioned.

Mueller said he uses poison ivy herbicide on poison ivy and some other exotic plants. “I do not encourage use of chemicals but there occasions where I do use chemical treatments sparingly,” he explained.

How do you recognize poison ivy? Mueller said most grow as vines, though some can be free standing plants, under two feet tall. “The plant has leaves divided into three leaflets. The leaflet has three lobes and the margin has a few scattered teeth. The leaflets on the common Box Elder Trees look a lot like Poison Ivy so people can compare the two. Box Elder usually has more leaflets. In the fall the ivy may have white berry clusters,” he explained.

If you do come into contact with poison ivy and develop a rash, the American Academy of Dermatologists recommends the following:

Immediately rinse your skin with lukewarm, soapy water. If you can rinse your skin immediately after touching poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac, you may be able to rinse off some of the oil. If not washed off, the oil can spread from person to person and to other areas of your body.

Wash your clothing. Thoroughly wash all of the clothes you were wearing when you came into contact with the poisonous plant. The oil can stick to clothing, and if it touches your skin, it can cause another rash.

Wash everything that may have the oil on its surface. Besides clothing, the oil from poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac can stick to many surfaces, including gardening tools, golf clubs, leashes and even a pet’s fur. Be sure to rinse your pet’s fur, and wash tools and other objects with warm, soapy water.

Do not scratch, as scratching can cause an infection.

Leave blisters alone. If blisters open, do not remove the overlying skin, as the skin can protect the raw wound underneath and prevent infection.

Take short, lukewarm baths. To ease the itch, take short, lukewarm baths in a colloidal oatmeal preparation, which you can buy at your local drugstore. You can also draw a bath and add one cup of baking soda to the running water. Taking short, cool showers may also help.

Consider calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream. Apply calamine lotion to skin that itches. If you have a mild case, a hydrocortisone cream or lotion may also help.

Apply cool compresses to the itchy skin. You can make a cool compress by wetting a clean washcloth with cold water and wringing it out so that it does not drip. Then, apply the cool cloth to the itchy skin.

Consider taking antihistamine pills. These pills can help reduce itching, however use with caution. You should not apply an antihistamine to your skin, as doing so can worsen the rash and the itch.

If your rash is not improving after seven to 10 days, or you think your rash may be infected, see a board-certified dermatologist. A dermatologist can treat your rash and any infection and help relieve the itch.


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Poison ivy and other summer rashes

By Perry T. Hopkins (Naturopath, TBWP)

Most of us are familiar with the things in summertime that get under our skin. Bug bites can be itchy and frustrating and last a short time. Others may suffer scratches from berry bushes and brush that might infect the outer layer of the skin. Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, Sumac, and stinging nettles are probably the harshest of these things that get under our skin. With their rashes that last up to four weeks or more, the chronic itching and sometimes the loss of joint range of motion from these lovely plants can hamper our summertime fun. We all have different remedies we use to help relieve the symptoms or discomforts.

Here are a few precautions one can take to avoid the onset of the above mentioned skin irritations:

*After being out in the woods or areas that may have irritating plants, bugs, brush, or thorns, take a hot shower with extra soap. Hot showers can help remove the histamines before the itching sets in.

*Applying a natural witch hazel to the skin when out in the woods and when first leaving the woods can help prevent the onset of infections and start the healing from bug bites, scrapes, scratches, and skin contamination.

*Taking the homeopathic Rhus Tox a couple days before going in the woods and just afterwards is like an immunization action towards poison ivy and some other rash causing plants.

Here are a few tips for a faster recovery after you have the rash, bites, or scrapes.

*Witch hazel helps heal up open sores.

*The homeopathic Calendula can be applied as a cream to the skin to rejuvenate and heal.

*The homeopathic Rhus Tox helps with skin rashes especially from Poison Ivy. It also helps with joint aches and pains that get better from movement.

*The essential oils of tea tree, lavender, geranium, roman chamomile, rose, melissa, rosewood, and palmarosa can help with recovery of most summertime hazards; bug bites, rashes, scrapes, and most often sun burns too. Just don’t apply the oils and go back out in the sun as it will attract the sunlight and may cause additional sunburn.

*Aloe Vera is one of the top 15 herbal antibiotics and works great for skin healing, and is soothing to most burns, scratches, bites, and rashes.

*Paste made from baking soda and water can be applied topically to help reduce acidicness and reduce inflammation.

*Drink plenty of water to help flush out the toxin from the inside of the body.

*Eat more fruits and vegetables with less starches and proteins so the immune system is stronger.

*Vitamin C and Bioflavonoids help the immune system in healing and fighting infections.

*Vitamin A / Beta-Carotene help heal and build new tissue as well as boost the immune system.

*Chlorophyll can help the body replenish fresh blood faster speeding up any kind of healing the body needs to do.

*Salves, lotions, oils, waters, vinegars, or teas made with the herbs Calendula (marigolds), Melissa (Lemon Balm), Lavender flowers, nettle leaf, jewel weed, Echinacea, melaleuca, eucalyptus leaf, peppermint, spearmint, and/or rose petals applied to the skin may show great benefit for comfort and faster healing.

*Taking Garlic and Echinacea internally may help boost the immune system and reduce the chance of getting infections as well as speeding up healing.

*Healthy eating and lots of water is the key to most health issues.

Enjoy what’s left of your your summer everyone! Health and happiness!

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