Grit Blogs > The Texas Pioneer Woman

Be Careful of Poison Ivy, Poison Oak and Poison Sumac!

Often in gardening and working around the yard or farm I come into contact with poisonous plants. Coming into contact with poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac can cause serious problems. It can cause serious skin rashes with intense itching that can easily spread on your body and to others. Some people say that it is not contagious, but I do not believe it because I had it once and my husband contracted it from me without ever coming into contact with the poisonous plants. I guess it may depend on how sensitive of an allergic reaction you have to these plants. Once having the rash it can last from 1 week to 6 weeks.

The first step to avoid coming into contact with these poisonous plants is being able to identify these plants. I have photographed these plants around my farm. Look carefully at the photos below.

Poison Ivy 

Poison Ivy 

Poison Oak 

Poison Oak 

Poison Sumac 

 Poison Sumac 

Getting rid of poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac is not easy. You can either use chemicals or pull it out. Normally I do not like to use chemicals but in this situation I find it very helpful. These poisonous plants are very hardy and need a specific herbicide made specifically for getting rid of these poisonous plants. I have had good results using Roundup for Poison Ivy Plus Tough Brush Killer.

I have also pulled out these poisonous plants. When I do this I make sure to wear long sleeves, pants, gloves, and a mask to cover my nose and mouth, and make sure that my hair is pulled back so that it does not come into contact with the plants. After pulling out the plants I dispose of them in a garbage bag and wash all of my clothing immediately and separately from the rest of the laundry. I also immediately take a shower. Do not attempt to burn these poisonous plants! I had a neighbor who did while his children were outside and the children ended up breathing the smoke and received a serious internal rash in their noses. Personally just thinking about these poisonous plants make me itch, so I often opt for using the chemicals; it is safer than coming down with the rash.

If you do develop a skin rash I have not been able to find an over the counter cream or lotion that helps to relieve the intense itching. What I have found to help with the healing of the rash is to constantly wash the infected area with soap and cool water. Also I regularly apply hand sanitizer to the infected area which helps to dry out the rash and relieve the itch. Also diluted bleach, rubbing alcohol, or hydrogen peroxide dabbed regularly on the infected area with a cotton ball helps too.

Happy gardening and completing chores around the yard and farm but make sure to keep a vigilant eye out for poisonous plants!

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4/30/2014 2:49:44 PM

I find calamine lotion to be very helpful, but messy.

4/25/2014 4:50:56 PM

Great informational article. All the precautions are wonderful. Last year there were multiple forest fires throughout Oregon and the drifting smoke was extreme and drifted for miles. People were developing rashes on exposed parts of their bodies and did not know why. Respiratory problems were a plague. The people were advised to wear masks that were designed to block out vapor particles, not the simple masks that are commonly worn in exam rooms or hospitals. Some facilities were handing out the required masks as a courtesy to the public. The people that were too vain to wear the masks had severe breathing problems and respiratory infections due to the smoke and the poisonous oils in the air. I am experiencing my first outbreak for this year and I am always looking for additional advise. Washing in cold water does not allow the skin pores to open as much and therefore helps to prevent the absorption of the rash causing oil. Washing as soon as possible after exposure is important. It can help to decrease the severity of the rash. If a rash does become present use the products that are recommended in this article. Keep the rash dry and if the rash is extreme then visit a doctor. Secondary infections are common and require additional care.

nebraska dave
5/1/2013 12:54:05 AM

TPW, I am one of those extremely lucky people that has a natural immunity of poison ivy. In fact one time I was pulling off the ivy from a tree in my back yard when a neighbor came over and informed me that it was poison ivy. I finished up the job of cleaning it up figuring it was to too late any way. When nothing became of it, I didn't think much about it until my wife washed my clothes. It turned out she was highly sensitive to poison ivy and contracted it from touching the clothes as she put them in the washer. I never lived that one down for quite awhile. Have a great poison ivy/oak/sumac free garden day.