Hiking more this time of year and exploring nature means you might explore more nature than you had planned on. I’m talking about everyone’s favorite plant: poison ivy.
Poison ivy typically grows along the edges where two habitats meet — especially along the edges of trails. You’ll find poison ivy along many trails in this region. But how do you stay out of poison ivy?
Identify it! Poison ivy has glossy green leaves with toothed edges.
While you and I might despise poison ivy, it is an food source for rabbits, deer, and birds.
If you get poison ivy on you, the urushiol oil takes a while to be absorbed by your skin–it depends on how hot it is and how sweaty you are. The allergic reaction in the form of an itchy blistery red rash usually appears about 8-12 hours later.
The goal is to stop the urushiol from getting to your skin and from being absorbed. If you get into a patch or one of your children do, you can make a beeline for the nearest restrooms with running water and soap. Always clean the area exposed to poison ivy by washing in a circular motion to the center of the exposed area. Wash with COLD water and wash the area exposed to poison ivy only. If you start slopping water and soap everywhere you’re just going to have a rash everywhere too!
If you aren’t close to a restroom, use a wet wipe or wet a tissue.
If you are familiar with plants you can crush-up the stems of jewel weed (it will be slightly gooey) and in a circular motion rub to the center of the exposed area. Keep repeating this for a few times with fresh stems each time.
On your way home pick-up Zanfel or just order it online so you have a tube since it is hard to find. Zanfel removes the oil which in turn reduces the length and severity of the rash. I’ve used it several times and have been happy with the results. It has a weird texture and you have to follow their directions PRECISELY for it to work.
You can read about my experience here.
Happy Poison Ivy Free Hiking!