The 411 on Poison Ivy

The 411 on Poison IvyIf you’ve never gotten a poison ivy rash – consider yourself lucky! Many of the Turf Shield team members can recall a summer or two where a fun day outside exploring resulted in an extremely itchy or red skin rash. To protect you and your loved ones from spending free days soaking in soothing oatmeal baths and longing for a bit of relief – we wanted to give you a crash course on poison ivy, what to look for, and what to do in the event you spot this invasive plant invading your own backyard.

Poison ivy is a nondescript green-looking plant that is known to have ruined more than a few camping trips for people. This plant’s leaves always grow in sets of threes (ever heard the saying “leaves of three, let them be”?): two leaves positioned behind a front leaf that is attached at the top of the stem. Capable of thriving in a variety of different conditions and climates, poison ivy can be found growing everywhere from shaded forests and wet river bottoms to sun-filled locations and your own backyard. This type of weed foliage can be yellow, orange, or red, depending on your geography, and the leaves can grow 4-5 inches long (and sometimes be just as wide).

The reason poison ivy gets such a bad rap is because of the chemical its sap releases, called urushiol. 85% of people are sensitive to urushiol oil and whenever their skin comes into direct contact, develop a rash. Only humans are affected by the oily resin but it can remain on just about any surface for up to five years (it can linger on gardening tools, clothing/shoes, and even on the hair or fur of your pet playing in the yard), and even after the leaves have fallen off.

It can take as little as five minutes for poison ivy to absorb into the skin, so it’s imperative that you act quickly if you think you’ve gotten the oil on your skin. If you’re able to wash it off under flowing water soon after exposure, you may be able to reduce the associated symptoms or stop it altogether from getting worse. Change any clothes that may have come into contact with poison ivy immediately and rinse your skin vigorously for at least 30 minutes with soap and cold water.

Ultimately you’re going to want to get rid of this plant to ensure you’re not constantly at risk of exposure. Poison ivy is invasive and can also do damage to your lawn. It can’t be burned because the smoke from the oil can be inhaled and toxic/lethal – so we definitely advise against that method! A most effective solution would be to use Turf Shield’s lawn care expertise to ensure the safety of not only your yard but you and your loved ones. All of the poison ivy plant (roots and all) have to be removed or else they can easily find another nearby spot to occupy and take over. If you suspect poison ivy is lurking and creating havoc in your own backyard, don’t hesitate to contact Turf Shield for information regarding poison ivy treatment and our additional lawn services today.