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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Poison Ivy?

Poison Ivy?

Measles make you bumpy
And mumps’ll make you lumpy
And chicken pox’ll make you jump and twitch
A common cold’ll fool ya
And whooping cough can cool ya
But poison ivy, Lord’ll make you itch!

-The Coasters

If you are one of the approximately 85% of the population who are allergic to poison ivy, then you’re probably already familiar with the intense discomfort it can cause from severely itchy, painful, oozy blisters and rashes.

How to identify poison ivy:
Poison ivy grows throughout most of North America, including most Canadian provinces and all U.S. states except Alaska, Hawaii and California. It thrives along the edges of wooded areas, which makes it especially prominent in suburban communities.

A poison ivy plant features three almond-shaped leaflets, and may grayish-white berries. The leaves, which are smooth and shiny, are often red when the plant is young, turning light green and then dark green as summer progresses, and reverting to bright red or orange again in the fall. The leaves are generally anywhere from 1” to 5” long, but can, in rare cases, grow to be up to 10” long. Poison ivy vines have no thorns, but will often feature fine reddish root hairs along the stem.

Here are a few rhymes people have used over the years to help them avoid poison ivy:
“Leaves of three, let it be.”
“Hairy vine, no friend of mine.”
“Berries white, run in fright” or “Berries white, danger in sight.”
“Red leaflets in the spring, it’s a dangerous thing.”
“Side leaflets like mittens, will itch like the dickens.”
“If butterflies land there, don’t put your hand there.”

Curing poison ivy:
If you are unlucky enough to come in contact with poison ivy, here are some natural remedies to help reduce the itching and pain. Before trying any of these remedies, be sure to first wash the area thoroughly with soap and hot water. Rinse and repeat at least three times to ensure that all of the poison is gone. Urushiol, the substance in poison ivy that makes you itchy, is a sticky oil that is hard to wash away. Make certain to wash all clothes, and anything else that came into contact with the plant, too.

• An old native American remedy poison ivy calls for a paste made from the crushed leaves and stems of the Jewelweed plant, also known as “touch-me-not.”

• Witch hazel applied to the affected area can soothe the itching.

• Cover the rash with a paste made from cold coffee and baking soda. A paste made from water and cornstarch will also work.

• Take a warm bath with oatmeal or Epsom salt. Use about one cup of oatmeal or two cups of Epsom salt in a full bathtub.

• Rub a banana peel or a watermelon rind over the rash and don’t rinse it off. Allow it to dry naturally.

• Make a paste from one tablespoon of turmeric with equal parts of lime or lemon juice and apply to the affected area.

• Whip a potato into a paste in your blender. Spread it onto your skin and cover with plastic wrap.

• Make a paste from one tablespoon of salt, 1/8 teaspoon of peppermint essential oil, 1 to 2 cups green clay, and a little water (just enough to give it a pasty texture). Apply liberally and leave in place for approximately 30 minutes. Rinse. Apply 2-3 times daily.

• Rub dishwashing liquid onto skin area and allow it to dry. Reapply as needed.

• Apply tea made from burdock root or peach tree leaves. Allow it to dry on the skin, and reapply as often as desired.

2 comments

1 Kevin D { 06.03.13 at 4:21 pm }

I second the question from Linda…I’m not so concerned about curing it…rather, how do we get rid of it in the garden. It seems to return each year with great resolve to conquer the garden and our back yard! I’d prefer not using chemicals but they are the only device that seems to work, aside from clipping and tossing. My wife will be forever grateful for a way to get rid of this stuff for once and for all.

2 Linda { 05.15.12 at 8:16 pm }

Any tips on eradicating it from our gardens? It is very persistent in my yard.

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