Anywhere from 8 to 48 hours after coming into contact with any part of the poison ivy, you’ll know whether you’re sensitive to this plant or not. Some lucky folks aren’t. MM, for example, seems to lack the PI-sensitive gene. Unfortunately, I fall into the other camp, and within a few hours of encountering even the least little contact with it, I break out in that characteristic rash that simply drives me wild! The itch lasts for days. Little relief comes from commercial “stop-the-itch” creams, or at least relief doesn’t last very long.. Best antidote I’ve found is to apply an aloe leaf to the affected area. It takes about 20 minutes for the aloe’s soothing affect to kick in, but once the itchy “fire” is put out, relief lasts for several hours.
Here is a wonderfully informative website on POISON IVY Poison Ivy is a member of the Cashew family (I definitely prefer the nut!)
The Itch is caused by a component called Urushiol oil. Only one nanogram (billionth of a gram) is needed to cause a rash. The average exposure is 100 nanogams.
Five hundred people could itch from the amount covering the head of a pin, while one-quarter ounce would cause a reaction in every person on earth. Specimens of Urushiol several centuries old have been found to cause dermatitis in sensitive people. The name "Urushiol is derived from the Japanese name for lacquer. When the Japanese restored the gold leaf on the Temple of Kyoto, they painted the Urushiol lacquer on it to preserve and maintain the gold. (It could have been a good deterrent against thievery, too!)
According to experts, Urushiol reactions are the most common form of allergy in the U.S.
Out here, JOTOLR, I seem to manage at least one careless encounter with poison ivy every year! I’ve had my one encounter for this season already. So, I can see where this season is heading already.
During the summer months poison ivy produces grapelike clusters of tiny white, pumpkin-like seeds with an off-white or pale yellow rind. Eventually, the rind flakes off and exposes the seed. Well before this happens, however, the rind-bound seeds are feasted upon by a variety of birds, including flickers and woodpeckers, sapsuckers, thrushes, pheasants and quail. Songbirds also eat the fruit during their fall migrations and during the winter when other foods are scarce. The rind provides the birds with nourishment, while the seeds usually pass through the birds’ gut unharmed. In this way, birds act as agents in the spread of poison ivy.
Identifying Poison Ivy isn’t difficult. What is difficult is to REMEMBER to identify it before you sit down in its midst or weed the flower garden with abandon. If you are a “sensitive” ALWAYS LOOK FIRST! Poison Ivy resembles Virginia Creeper. They often grow in direct proximity to each other. Here’s the motto, along with photos:
Leaves of five (Virginia Creeper) leave alive
(meaning, count the five lobes, identify as Virginia Creeper)
Leaves of three (Poison Ivy) don’t touch me!
(Count those three lobes and know it's that diabolical Poison Ivy).
There are also many myths associated with Poison Ivy concerning remedies. Most I’ve tried have turned out to be less than effective. One I’ve not tried is rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana peel. On the other hand, I have found rubbing alcohol, if applied within 20 minutes of exposure, to be effective. Some say dishwashing detergent works, too. Again, the link I’ve provided here has lots of good information, including pictures of the rash and other remedies. The author of this website offers many tips and methods for determining whether or not exposure has occurred.
Finally, the danger is not past with the passage of summer. In the fall, Poison Ivy leaves are particularly beguiling. They invite the uninformed to gather those brilliant leaves and put them in a vase on the table. Know your plants, dear reader! Pay attention to the flora in your backyard, and be aware of the ramifications of a chance brush-up with this fiendish trickster.