“Leaves of Three, Let it Be!” The traditional summertime mantra for hiking, canoeing, exploring, and gardening. In Arkansas, we have both Poison Ivy and Poison Oak, which have a characteristic 3 leaf pattern, and contain urushiol, an oily allergen.
Once this oil gets on your skin, it can cause an allergic reaction to the skin with redness, itching, swelling and blisters. The severity will depend on how sensitive each person is. Urishiol can be washed off with soap and water – if you do this promptly enough after exposure (like 15 minutes or less), you can potentially avoid an allergic reaction, or lessen the severity of the reaction. That’s why it’s particularly important to be able to recognize these plants. If you come into contact with Poison Ivy or Poison Oak, you can take steps to lessen your possible future misery! According to the Arkansas Native Plant Society, Poison Ivy and Poison Oak can be encountered anywhere from foot to head level, as these plants grow on the ground, but can also climb with vines.
If you were wondering, Poison Sumac doesn’t grow in Arkansas – we do have other kinds of Sumac – just not the poisonous kind.
There are, of course, other plants that have a three-leaf pattern, but if you’re not familiar with the plant, and it’s got three leaves like the pictures…don’t touch it. If touching the plant is unavoidable, wash with soap and water as soon as possible. Don’t forget to wash any clothes, shoes and tools you were using as well.
If, despite your best precautions, you still end up with the itchy, miserable rash, come and see us at Karas Health Care! We’ve got several treatment options for Poison Ivy and Poison Oak, and we will get you feeling better!