Poison-IvyWith summertime fast approaching, you’re probably thinking about fitting into that swimsuit and getting outside to enjoy all those beautiful, sun-filled days. However, when the weather starts heating up you may actually have more to worry about than just topping up your tan.

Poison ivy has been on the increase, particularly in areas of the southern United States like Georgia. While you’re probably already aware that little three-leaved plant can cause a nasty rash, it can actually be very harmful and even occasionally potentially fatal for some.

Additionally, airborne sap-coated soot can cause damage and irritation to your eyes, nose and throat without you having to touch the plant at all. So what do you do when you’re confronted with poison ivy in your yard or outside?

While poison ivy has always been a pain, studies are finding that it’s actually getting stronger and more damaging than ever before. According to an article on PBS Newshour, a study on the plant confirmed that higher levels of carbon dioxide was not only helping the plant to grow at a more rapid rate, but it also caused poison ivy strains to produce more urushiol, the oil at the root of the rash.

Signs of irritation can include extremely itchy skin, red patches where the plant touched the skin, red bumps or even weeping blisters. Though reactions can vary, in some cases treatment does require hospitalization. Though it’s commonly found around riverbanks and roadsides, it can spread rapidly and pop up just about anywhere.

1) Know what to look for. Before you stumble on to a patch of poison ivy and ruin your day, it’s important to know what you’re looking for. Poison ivy generally has three, dark green shiny leaves together and a red stem. If you do see poison ivy, do not touch it or allow children or animals to go near it. Also, take the time to educate your children to recognize it so they can avoid it.

2) Know how to handle the sting. Stings can not only be uncomfortable, they can also be dangerous. It’s important that you treat the affected area as soon as possible after you’ve had a run in with poison ivy. Neutralize the sting by treating the area with rubbing alcohol or vinegar, then wash the area with soap and water.

There are many creams on the market that can help with the continued care of the rash. If you notice that the rash is getting worse or is spreading to your face, nose or you’ve picked up a sore throat, see your doctor immediately.

3) Protect yourself while outside. If you’re in unfamiliar terrain, for example on a camping trip or a hike, you’re more likely to encounter patches of poison ivy as you may not be looking for them. Be sure to wear shoes and socks at all times, and jeans or long pants can also help prevent a sting.

If you are gardening, be sure to use gloves as the weed can crop up where you least expect it. Essentially, if you’re in an area where plants can grow, poison ivy can come up to. Keeping your skin covered can help minimize your exposure factor.

4) Use a professional lawn care company to eradicate the infestation. As with most weeds, poison ivy is notoriously difficult to get rid of and occasionally it’s best to bring in the experts. Find a local lawn care company that is experienced with the strains of poison ivy in your area.

For example, Georgia is a hotbed for this contagious weed, prompting homeowners to consult with lawn care professionals like Arbor-Nomics, Inc. on the best way to remove this plant. They will also be able to advise you on how to prevent re-growth or point out areas where you’re most likely to see crops.

5) Smother the location where the poison ivy was growing. Poison ivy has a knack for returning again and again, so be sure to smother the area where it was once you’ve had it removed. This can be done with something as simple as a plastic tarp over the area. Allow that to stay a few days, ensuring that no other plants have taken up residence there. 

Running into a patch of poison ivy can put a damper on summer fun. Learn to recognize the plant from a distance so you can avoid it, and keep a first aid kit handy to deal with any aftermath from an encounter. Avoid large patches, and seek professional help to eradicate it from your home and yard.

Jamica Bell is a writer and Georgia native. She contributes this article to highlight the dangers associated with poison ivy and how to remove it handle it as safely as possible. The services provided by Arbor-Nomics, Inc. has made it easy for homeowners across the state to care for their lawns by making them poison ivy - free.