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December 13, 2017

Archives for June 2014

Poison Ivy: A plant to avoid

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Poison Ivy: A plant to avoid

Pretty Poison Now in Season: Poison Ivy Survival Tips From Topical BioMedics, Inc.

Topricin Pain Relief and Healing Cream formulas applied to exposed skin before going outside forms a barrier of protection from poison ivy’s urushiol, an oily resin many people are allergic to

It’s a particularly strong year for poison ivy, so it’s important for everyone to be aware there are ways to prevent outbreaks, or safely treat rashes.

Rhinebeck, NY (PRWEB) June 18, 2014

Summer is kicking into gear, and poison ivy is lush and plentiful. A master of disguise, it can take the form of a vine, shrub or ground cover, has leaves that are shiny or dull, with the edges smooth or notched. So how can it be recognized for the pretty poison it is? The phrase “Leaves of three, let it be” is a good rule of thumb, and if there are white berries, we should heed the advice to “take flight.” Whether hiking in the woods, gardening, or playing in the yard, it’s important to be aware of any plant with three leaflets.

Poison ivy tops the list of plants to avoid because it contains urushiol, an oily resin that binds to the skin on contact and may result in a hypersensitivity reaction characterized by itching, burning skin eruptions. This rash-causing poison ivy sap is a clear liquid found in the plant’s leaves and the roots.

Urushiol oil is extremely potent, and only one nanogram (billionth of a gram) is needed to cause a rash. Even if you’ve never broken out you cannot assume you are immune as the more often you are exposed to urushiol, the more likely it is that you will break out. In fact, upwards of 90% of the population develops an allergy to it.

Although poison ivy is now in full season, it is potent year round, and urushiol oil remains active for several years, so even handling dead leaves or vines can cause a reaction. In addition, oil transferred from the plant to other objects—such as gardening tools, an article of clothing, or even a pet—can cause the rash when it comes in contact with human skin. If poison ivy is eaten, the mucus lining of the mouth and digestive tract can be damaged. And if poison ivy is burned and the smoke inhaled, a rash may appear in the lining of the lungs, causing extreme pain and respiratory difficulty that may become life-threatening.

Most people develop a rash after coming in contact with the plant. After the oil has touched the skin it takes about 12 to 36 hours for redness and swelling to appear, followed by blisters and itching. Contrary to popular belief, scratching or oozing blister fluid cannot spread the outbreak or transfer it to other people. New lesions that appear a few days after a breakout of primary lesions means that there was less oil deposited on that area of the skin, or that the skin was less sensitive to it.

WINNING THE BATTLE AGAINST POISON IVY

Lou Paradise, president and chief of research of Topical BioMedics, Inc., makers of Topricin, says, “It’s a particularly strong year for poison ivy, so it’s important for everyone to be aware there are ways to prevent outbreaks, or safely treat rashes and minimize the discomfort and duration should they occur.”

You and your family can have a more enjoyable summer by following these tips for avoiding outbreaks of poison ivy, along with these helpful treatments for soothing and healing rashes if you do succumb.

Prevention:

  • Avoiding contact with the plant is, of course, the best prevention. Go on an expedition, wearing long pants, a shirt with long sleeves, boots, and gloves to minimize exposure. Tour your yard, the playground, a campsite you’re visiting, and any other outdoor areas you frequent. When you spot poison ivy, show it to your kids and instruct them to stay away from it. If you have a large amount growing in your yard, consult with a professional landscaper for removal. (Unless you are a professional, do not “weed whack” as it sprays the poison ivy—and hence the oil—right at you.).
  • Wear pants, long sleeve shirts, and gloves so less skin is exposed when you are working or playing where poison ivy may be present, such as when hiking, cutting down trees in the woods, mowing brush, etc. It is recommended that you wear plastic gloves over cotton gloves because urushiol can eventually soak through cotton gloves.
  • Prior to any outdoor activity, apply odorless, greaseless Topricin Pain Relief and Healing cream to any exposed areas of your body, including face, neck, hands, arms, etc. This will form a protective barrier that makes it more difficult for the urushiol oil to bond with your skin. Topricin contains natural medicines that also antidote and neutralize the adverse affect of urushiol oil. As an added plus, Topricin is the gardener’s favorite for relieving all the aches and pains of doing yard work.
  • Urushiol oil is extremely stable and will stay potent for years–which means you can get a rash from clothing or tools that got oil on them many seasons ago. After exposure to poison ivy, put on gloves and wipe everything you had with you and on you with rubbing alcohol and water, including shoes, tools, and clothing. Then wash clothes at least twice before wearing (if possible using bleach), hose off garden tools well, and apply leather moisturizer on footwear to prevent them from drying out (again, put on gloves). Change your shoe/boot laces once exposed to poison ivy.
  • Pets seem to be immune from getting poison ivy, but many people do get a rash from the residual urushiol oil on their fur. Therefore it’s a good idea to bath our dog or cat wearing thick rubber gloves (not latex). After washing the pet, wash yourself using cold water to keep pores closed. Consult with your veterinarian if you have any questions.

Treatment

  • Urushiol binds to skin proteins and begins to penetrate within 15 minutes of contact. If treated before that time, a reaction may be prevented. First, wash exposed site with cold water (hot water will open your pores, allowing the oil in). Follow this by bathing it in milk, which helps to get between the oil and the skin. Dry off well and then apply Topricin, which will help neutralize the effect of any remaining urushiol oil left on your skin.
  • Scrub under your nails. You can spread poison ivy to other parts of your body by having the oil on your fingers.
  • Wherever poison ivy grows, there is usually a plant known as jewelweed growing close by—especially in moister, shadier areas. Herbalists and Native Americans have used jewelweed for centuries to treat and speed the healing of poison ivy as it seems to be a natural remedy. When you are in the field and may have been exposed to poison ivy, pick jewelweed, slice the stem, and rub its juice on your skin to ease irritation and help prevent a breakout.
  • Some companies and herbalists offer poison ivy treatment soaps that contain jewelweed and other soothing natural ingredients, such as pine tar. Soaps are available from Poison Ivy Soap Company, Burt’s Bees, or search online for sources.
  • Take homeopathic Rhus Tox 30X tablets to help build immunity to poison ivy.
  • For severe outbreaks, or if you have any concerns whatsoever, see your doctor right away.

SYMPTOMS REQUIRING IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ATTENTION

If you experience any of the following symptoms, go to the emergency room right away:

–Trouble breathing or swallowing

–Many rashes/blisters or a rash that covers most of your body

–A rash that develops anywhere on your face of genitals

–Swelling, especially if an eyelid swells shut

About Topical BioMedics, Inc.

20 years in business and a Certified B Corporation, Topical BioMedics is a research and development leader in topical patented natural biomedicines for pain relief. The company’s flagship product, Topricin® Pain Relief and Healing Cream, was introduced in 1994 and is now a leading natural therapeutic brand. A combination biomedicine formula, Topricin has been awarded a patent for the treatment of pain associated with fibromyalgia and neuropathy, and was listed among the Top 100 Green Products of 2012 by Healthy Holistic Living.

The Topricin family of natural healing products also includes Topricin Foot Therapy Cream, specially formulated to treat painful foot and ankle issues and conditions, and Topricin for Children, which received the Parent Tested Parent Approved Seal of Approval (with 5% of sales donated to pediatric cancer foundations). Made in the U.S.A., all Topricin products are federally-regulated over-the-counter medicines with no known side effects, no parabens, petroleum, or other harsh chemicals, no grease, and no odor.

Topricin is available in independent pharmacies, natural food and co-op stores nationwide, including Whole Foods, Sprouts, Pharmaca, The Vitamin Shoppe, Fred Meyer, Wegmans, CVS (Foot Care Section), Walgreens (Diabetic Section), and other fine retailers, as well as directly from the company.

For more information visit http://www.topricin.com.

SOURCES:

Topical BioMedics, Inc.

WebMD

Mayo Clinic

Discovery Health

American Academy of Dermatology

About.com

Wiki How

UGA Center for Urban Agriculture

Indiana Department of Natural Resources


See original article:  

Pretty Poison Now in Season: Poison Ivy Survival Tips From Topical BioMedics, Inc.

Woods hits poison ivy snag again

Poison ivy grows on a tree in the Lincoln Woods off West Pierrepont Avenue. This photo was taken two weeks ago.

Staff photo/Jaimie Winters

Poison ivy grows on a tree in the Lincoln Woods off West Pierrepont Avenue. This photo was taken two weeks ago.

Poison ivy growing in the Lincoln Woods has once again posed a dilemma for volunteers and officials looking to turn the property into an educational park. Construction of pathways and benches are presently on hold to address the vegetation, as the Shade Tree Committee and borough discuss how to move forward.

The volunteer Shade Tree Committee and Lincoln School community have been working since 2010 to turn the 1.8-acre Lincoln Woods, located behind the Lincoln School between West Pierrepont and Vreeland avenues, into an outdoor learning center for the nearby Lincoln School. The property was designated a permanent open space Green Acres property in 1985. But the property has been over run with poison ivy.

Aiming for a less expensive option that would not involve widespread herbicide treatment, goats were deployed to the site in June 2013 and October 2012 to chomp on poison ivy and other growth. Lawrence Cihanek, owner of Green Goats in Rhinebeck, N.Y., and his bearded, hungry herd of 15 were hired to take out the weeds, clearing a good portion of the property. According to borough officials at the time, Rutherford paid $3,420 for each visit for the animals and fencing, paid for through fundraising by the school. Seasons have come and gone since, but the poison ivy has returned.

The next phase would involve construction of a pathway through the property. However, as council members noted at their most recent meeting, the site is presently overgrown with poison ivy. A trail that would run through the woods with a wooden boardwalk leading over a swampy patch of land near Carmita Avenue, some small clearings with logs for benches, informational signs identifying local flora and even a small semi-circle for outdoor lessons have been proposed. Site design was provided by a landscape designer through the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission (NJMC).

In his opinion, path work cannot begin until the poison ivy is cleared, Shade Tree Committee and DPW council liaison Jack Manzo said. On June 12, a lawn care contractor working for the borough inspected the site.

“We’re going to have to go in with a machine and clean it up or go in with heavy-duty weed wackers and do it by hand,” Manzo said. “With machines you have to be careful that you don’t take down little saplings hiding behind some of the growth, so it might be better to do it by hand.”

Manzo said it’s possible the work would be done over the course of the summer and likely done in-house by the Public Works Department.

In preparation for the next phase of the Lincoln Woods Project, the borough advertised and received bids for pending work. The highest was submitted by Atlas Tree Service at $20,800, the median bid by Sunset Ridge Landscaping at $16,500 and the lowest by Schule Landscaping at $8,800. A memo from the purchasing department indicated the lowest bidder Schule Landscaping attended a pre-quote meeting on May 9 and is aware of the work specification and project schedule.

As Manzo explained, the phase would involve installation of two winding, six-foot wide paths covered in woodchips that will meet towards the center with two different clearings with log benches. Access gates for the public and school will be included.

Due to the uncertainty raised by the poison ivy conditions, the council has yet to award a contract.

“This is a natural area, the idea is to have signage to stay on the trail and we want to have signage educating people about poison ivy, such as how to recognize it,” said Carol Hsu of the Shade Tree Committee. “It will never be poison ivy-free, it’s something we have to watch out for. It even happens in people’s backyards. I think there’s a difference of opinion on how much of the poison ivy must be cleared before the trail can be built.”

Bid specs recently advertised did include clearing of the ivy for the 6-foot-wide trails and border areas, for the safety of residents. The committee intends to ask the borough to spray herbicides between two and three times a year to eventually bring the ivy under control, a recommendation made by the NJMC and Shade Tree Department, Hsu said.

The Shade Tree Committee is comfortable with allowing the Department of Public Works to treat the site prior to the trail work starting, granted the next phase is only delayed a few weeks, Hsu said.

“We were hoping to have the trail in by summer, but we’d like to have something since a lot of people donated to this project, and we want them to be able to enjoy the property,” Hsu said.

Hsu is optimistic that the borough and committee can decide on the next step this week during their scheduled meeting, expressing optimism in the renewed communication due to Manzo’s attendance at their meetings. The previous liaison did not attend, she said.

Progress was also made in spring through hazard tree removal – ones at risk of falling and others that were infested with poison ivy, Hsu said.

Donations by the public and a state grant are planned to finance Lincoln Woods.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection awarded a Green Acres grant for the Lincoln Woods and Memorial Field projects combined in early 2013.

Rutherford falls into our Densely Populated Municipality category, and therefore, is eligible for a 25 percent grant and up to a 75 percent loan, with a total estimate for both projects combined at $1.02 million, explained NJDEP spokesperson Robert Considine. The grant itself came to $256,000, and a loan of $194,000 was approved by the state.

In October 2013, the Rutherford Council passed a bond ordinance allocating $256,000 in general bonds for improvements at Memorial Field and Lincoln Woods together. A donation of about $15,000 was made this spring by the Rutherford Education Foundation for the woods project, and over the last few years, funding has also been raised by the Lincoln School PTA.

The Green Acres grant has yet to change hands from the state to Rutherford.

Continued here:

Woods hits poison ivy snag again

Lincoln Woods project in Rutherford hits poison ivy snag again

Poison ivy grows on a tree in the Lincoln Woods off West Pierrepont Avenue. This photo was taken two weeks ago.

Staff photo/Jaimie Winters

Poison ivy grows on a tree in the Lincoln Woods off West Pierrepont Avenue. This photo was taken two weeks ago.

Poison ivy growing in the Lincoln Woods has once again posed a dilemma for volunteers and officials looking to turn the property into an educational park. Construction of pathways and benches are presently on hold to address the vegetation, as the Shade Tree Committee and borough discuss how to move forward.

The volunteer Shade Tree Committee and Lincoln School community have been working since 2010 to turn the 1.8-acre Lincoln Woods, located behind the Lincoln School between West Pierrepont and Vreeland avenues, into an outdoor learning center for the nearby Lincoln School. The property was designated a permanent open space Green Acres property in 1985. But the property has been over run with poison ivy.

Aiming for a less expensive option that would not involve widespread herbicide treatment, goats were deployed to the site in June 2013 and October 2012 to chomp on poison ivy and other growth. Lawrence Cihanek, owner of Green Goats in Rhinebeck, N.Y., and his bearded, hungry herd of 15 were hired to take out the weeds, clearing a good portion of the property. According to borough officials at the time, Rutherford paid $3,420 for each visit for the animals and fencing, paid for through fundraising by the school. Seasons have come and gone since, but the poison ivy has returned.

The next phase would involve construction of a pathway through the property. However, as council members noted at their most recent meeting, the site is presently overgrown with poison ivy. A trail that would run through the woods with a wooden boardwalk leading over a swampy patch of land near Carmita Avenue, some small clearings with logs for benches, informational signs identifying local flora and even a small semi-circle for outdoor lessons have been proposed. Site design was provided by a landscape designer through the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission (NJMC).

In his opinion, path work cannot begin until the poison ivy is cleared, Shade Tree Committee and DPW council liaison Jack Manzo said. On June 12, a lawn care contractor working for the borough inspected the site.

“We’re going to have to go in with a machine and clean it up or go in with heavy-duty weed wackers and do it by hand,” Manzo said. “With machines you have to be careful that you don’t take down little saplings hiding behind some of the growth, so it might be better to do it by hand.”

Manzo said it’s possible the work would be done over the course of the summer and likely done in-house by the Public Works Department.

In preparation for the next phase of the Lincoln Woods Project, the borough advertised and received bids for pending work. The highest was submitted by Atlas Tree Service at $20,800, the median bid by Sunset Ridge Landscaping at $16,500 and the lowest by Schule Landscaping at $8,800. A memo from the purchasing department indicated the lowest bidder Schule Landscaping attended a pre-quote meeting on May 9 and is aware of the work specification and project schedule.

As Manzo explained, the phase would involve installation of two winding, six-foot wide paths covered in woodchips that will meet towards the center with two different clearings with log benches. Access gates for the public and school will be included.

Due to the uncertainty raised by the poison ivy conditions, the council has yet to award a contract.

“This is a natural area, the idea is to have signage to stay on the trail and we want to have signage educating people about poison ivy, such as how to recognize it,” said Carol Hsu of the Shade Tree Committee. “It will never be poison ivy-free, it’s something we have to watch out for. It even happens in people’s backyards. I think there’s a difference of opinion on how much of the poison ivy must be cleared before the trail can be built.”

Bid specs recently advertised did include clearing of the ivy for the 6-foot-wide trails and border areas, for the safety of residents. The committee intends to ask the borough to spray herbicides between two and three times a year to eventually bring the ivy under control, a recommendation made by the NJMC and Shade Tree Department, Hsu said.

The Shade Tree Committee is comfortable with allowing the Department of Public Works to treat the site prior to the trail work starting, granted the next phase is only delayed a few weeks, Hsu said.

“We were hoping to have the trail in by summer, but we’d like to have something since a lot of people donated to this project, and we want them to be able to enjoy the property,” Hsu said.

Hsu is optimistic that the borough and committee can decide on the next step this week during their scheduled meeting, expressing optimism in the renewed communication due to Manzo’s attendance at their meetings. The previous liaison did not attend, she said.

Progress was also made in spring through hazard tree removal – ones at risk of falling and others that were infested with poison ivy, Hsu said.

Donations by the public and a state grant are planned to finance Lincoln Woods.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection awarded a Green Acres grant for the Lincoln Woods and Memorial Field projects combined in early 2013.

Rutherford falls into our Densely Populated Municipality category, and therefore, is eligible for a 25 percent grant and up to a 75 percent loan, with a total estimate for both projects combined at $1.02 million, explained NJDEP spokesperson Robert Considine. The grant itself came to $256,000, and a loan of $194,000 was approved by the state.

In October 2013, the Rutherford Council passed a bond ordinance allocating $256,000 in general bonds for improvements at Memorial Field and Lincoln Woods together. A donation of about $15,000 was made this spring by the Rutherford Education Foundation for the woods project, and over the last few years, funding has also been raised by the Lincoln School PTA.

The Green Acres grant has yet to change hands from the state to Rutherford.

Read article here:

Lincoln Woods project in Rutherford hits poison ivy snag again

Personal Health: Steering Clear of Poison Ivy

Alexa Grace
Personal Health
Personal Health

Jane Brody on health and aging.

I was once among those who claim, “I could walk through a field of poison ivy and not get it.” One day I learned otherwise: On a hike, I needed to relieve myself in the great outdoors and ended up with an impossibly itchy, blistering rash on a most delicate body part.

Too late I learned that you can develop an allergic reaction to poison ivy after previously uneventful exposures, which induce a sensitivity to the plant’s oily sap, urushiol. Once sensitized, your skin is likely to react to every subsequent exposure. Even people repeatedly exposed who appear to be immune may react to high concentrations of the toxin.

I also learned not to rely on the popular warning, “Leaves of three, let them be,” to alert me to the presence of Toxicodendron radicans, as the poison ivy plant is aptly called by botanists. It is not just the leaves that can provoke a reaction; the stems, roots, flowers and berries all contain urushiol.

Touching or brushing against any of these plant parts, even if they are dead, can cause a reaction. The sap is hardy and can cause a rash in the dead of winter, or even a year after contaminating clothing or shoes that are not thoroughly cleaned.

Poison oak.iStockPoison oak.
Poison sumac.Zoran Ivanovich/The New York TimesPoison sumac.
Poison ivy.iStockPoison ivy.

Urushiol shows up elsewhere, including in the skin of mangoes (and the leaves and bark of the mango tree), as I discovered when I ate a mango still in the rind and ended up with a blistering rash on my mouth. Cashew shells also have the toxin, which is why cashews are sold shelled and processed (either roasted or in the case of “raw” cashews, steamed) at a temperature high enough to destroy urushiol. Poison ivy is not the only problem plant one might encounter while hiking, camping or simply strolling in the countryside. T. radicans has two relatives, poison oak and poison sumac, that don’t always form the classic clusters but are equally toxic troublemakers.

Myths and misconceptions abound about these three plants and the reactions they can cause. Knowing the facts can help to spare you and your family considerable distress.

First, learn to recognize the plants in their various growth patterns. While poison ivy is most often encountered as a small ground plant, it also grows as a shrub and vine. The vines, which turn bright red in fall, were once used to adorn buildings in England.

Poison oak, which has compound leaves made up of three (or sometimes five) leaflets, usually grows as a shrub, but will form a vine in the Western states.

Poison sumac, which grows as a tall shrub or small tree, produces leaves with rows of paired leaflets and a single leaflet at the end. It likes a wet habitat, growing in peat bogs in the Northeast and Midwest and swamps in the Southeast.

Urushiol can penetrate cloth. Although long sleeves, pants and gloves can reduce the risk of exposure, they cannot guarantee protection. Even rubber gloves can be breached. If you must handle the plants or are likely to contact poison ivy when gardening, wear vinyl gloves.

You don’t have to touch the plant directly to react to urushiol. Gardening tools, sporting equipment, even a pet that has been in a patch of poison ivy — all can cause a reaction. My brother, who has been sensitive to urushiol since childhood, once developed the rash on his arm after retrieving a baseball that had rolled through poison ivy.

Before possible exposure, use an over-the-counter skin-care product containing bentoquatam (IvyBlock) to prevent or reduce absorption of urushiol. The combination of this barrier product and protective clothing is your best defense against an inadvertent encounter.

But there is no scientific evidence that jewelweed, feverfew, plantain or other herbal remedies prevent or cure a urushiol-induced rash.

Nor do you become immune to urushiol through repeated exposures to small amounts. Quite the opposite. There is no way to desensitize a person to urushiol as there is with pollen and peanut allergies. Eating mangoes or cashews will not work.

Contrary to popular belief, a poison ivy rash is not contagious. It cannot be spread by oozing blisters, or by scratching or touching the rash. Only direct contact with urushiol causes a reaction. (Scratching can result in an infection, however.)

The rash can appear on different parts of the body at various times. This may happen because the parts were exposed at different times, or because areas with thicker skin are less easily penetrated by the oil. The delicate skin of the genital and perianal areas, for example, is more easily breached than tougher skin on the hands.

Repeated tilling or mowing can eventually kill poison ivy plants, as can repeated applications of an herbicide like Roundup. The latter should be applied with serious caution and only on a warm, sunny day with little or no wind when the plants are actively growing.

If you are highly allergic, or wary of applying herbicides, clearing your property of the plants may be best left to a professional. While goats are said to have a hearty appetite for poison ivy plants, they may eat everything else in the yard, too.

Never try to burn a poison plant. Burning releases the toxin, which may land on skin or, worse, be inhaled and cause a serious internal reaction.

Should you contact a urushiol-containing plant, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends washing your skin immediately. Lukewarm, soapy water is best, but even plain water can limit exposure to the sap. Take care in removing contaminated clothing, and wash it separately as soon as possible.

You can relieve a rash by applying cool compresses with an astringent like Burow’s solution, soaking the affected area in colloidal oatmeal, or using calamine lotion; all are sold over the counter. Do not apply products containing a topical antihistamine, like Benadryl, which can cause a sensitivity reaction that makes matters worse.

Severe reactions may require medically prescribed treatment with an oral corticosteroid like prednisone.

A version of this article appears in print on 06/17/2014, on page D7 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Steering Clear of Poison Ivy.

View post:  

Personal Health: Steering Clear of Poison Ivy

Steering Clear of Poison Ivy

Alexa Grace
Personal Health
Personal Health

Jane Brody on health and aging.

I was once among those who claim, “I could walk through a field of poison ivy and not get it.” One day I learned otherwise: On a hike, I needed to relieve myself in the great outdoors and ended up with an impossibly itchy, blistering rash on a most delicate body part.

Too late I learned that you can develop an allergic reaction to poison ivy after previously uneventful exposures, which induce a sensitivity to the plant’s oily sap, urushiol. Once sensitized, your skin is likely to react to every subsequent exposure. Even people repeatedly exposed who appear to be immune may react to high concentrations of the toxin.

I also learned not to rely on the popular warning, “Leaves of three, let them be,” to alert me to the presence of Toxicodendron radicans, as the poison ivy plant is aptly called by botanists. It is not just the leaves that can provoke a reaction; the stems, roots, flowers and berries all contain urushiol.

Touching or brushing against any of these plant parts, even if they are dead, can cause a reaction. The sap is hardy and can cause a rash in the dead of winter, or even a year after contaminating clothing or shoes that are not thoroughly cleaned.

Poison oak.iStockPoison oak.
Poison sumac.Zoran Ivanovich/The New York TimesPoison sumac.
Poison ivy.iStockPoison ivy.

Urushiol shows up elsewhere, including in the skin of mangoes (and the leaves and bark of the mango tree), as I discovered when I ate a mango still in the rind and ended up with a blistering rash on my mouth. Cashew shells also have the toxin, which is why cashews are sold shelled and processed (either roasted or in the case of “raw” cashews, steamed) at a temperature high enough to destroy urushiol. Poison ivy is not the only problem plant one might encounter while hiking, camping or simply strolling in the countryside. T. radicans has two relatives, poison oak and poison sumac, that don’t always form the classic clusters but are equally toxic troublemakers.

Myths and misconceptions abound about these three plants and the reactions they can cause. Knowing the facts can help to spare you and your family considerable distress.

First, learn to recognize the plants in their various growth patterns. While poison ivy is most often encountered as a small ground plant, it also grows as a shrub and vine. The vines, which turn bright red in fall, were once used to adorn buildings in England.

Poison oak, which has compound leaves made up of three (or sometimes five) leaflets, usually grows as a shrub, but will form a vine in the Western states.

Poison sumac, which grows as a tall shrub or small tree, produces leaves with rows of paired leaflets and a single leaflet at the end. It likes a wet habitat, growing in peat bogs in the Northeast and Midwest and swamps in the Southeast.

Urushiol can penetrate cloth. Although long sleeves, pants and gloves can reduce the risk of exposure, they cannot guarantee protection. Even rubber gloves can be breached. If you must handle the plants or are likely to contact poison ivy when gardening, wear vinyl gloves.

You don’t have to touch the plant directly to react to urushiol. Gardening tools, sporting equipment, even a pet that has been in a patch of poison ivy — all can cause a reaction. My brother, who has been sensitive to urushiol since childhood, once developed the rash on his arm after retrieving a baseball that had rolled through poison ivy.

Before possible exposure, use an over-the-counter skin-care product containing bentoquatam (IvyBlock) to prevent or reduce absorption of urushiol. The combination of this barrier product and protective clothing is your best defense against an inadvertent encounter.

But there is no scientific evidence that jewelweed, feverfew, plantain or other herbal remedies prevent or cure a urushiol-induced rash.

Nor do you become immune to urushiol through repeated exposures to small amounts. Quite the opposite. There is no way to desensitize a person to urushiol as there is with pollen and peanut allergies. Eating mangoes or cashews will not work.

Contrary to popular belief, a poison ivy rash is not contagious. It cannot be spread by oozing blisters, or by scratching or touching the rash. Only direct contact with urushiol causes a reaction. (Scratching can result in an infection, however.)

The rash can appear on different parts of the body at various times. This may happen because the parts were exposed at different times, or because areas with thicker skin are less easily penetrated by the oil. The delicate skin of the genital and perianal areas, for example, is more easily breached than tougher skin on the hands.

Repeated tilling or mowing can eventually kill poison ivy plants, as can repeated applications of an herbicide like Roundup. The latter should be applied with serious caution and only on a warm, sunny day with little or no wind when the plants are actively growing.

If you are highly allergic, or wary of applying herbicides, clearing your property of the plants may be best left to a professional. While goats are said to have a hearty appetite for poison ivy plants, they may eat everything else in the yard, too.

Never try to burn a poison plant. Burning releases the toxin, which may land on skin or, worse, be inhaled and cause a serious internal reaction.

Should you contact a urushiol-containing plant, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends washing your skin immediately. Lukewarm, soapy water is best, but even plain water can limit exposure to the sap. Take care in removing contaminated clothing, and wash it separately as soon as possible.

You can relieve a rash by applying cool compresses with an astringent like Burow’s solution, soaking the affected area in colloidal oatmeal, or using calamine lotion; all are sold over the counter. Do not apply products containing a topical antihistamine, like Benadryl, which can cause a sensitivity reaction that makes matters worse.

Severe reactions may require medically prescribed treatment with an oral corticosteroid like prednisone.

A version of this article appears in print on 06/17/2014, on page D7 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Steering Clear of Poison Ivy.

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Steering Clear of Poison Ivy

Virginia Tech researchers say they've found natrual way to control poison ivy

BLACKSBURG, Va. –

Two researchers at Virginia Tech say they’ve found a natural way to control poison ivy and say the idea began in a windstorm.

Doctors John Jelesko and Matt Kasson are researchers inside the plant pathology department, who know a lot about one of man’s itchiest enemies, poison ivy.
Jelesko, standing next to a large growth of poison ivy on campus, said the plant grows where it wants.

“It can grow up this tree, in a vine that you see, but also over here it can kind of grow as a shrub and it’s a very dense shrub,” Jelesko said.

Poison ivy produces Urushiol, a chemical that makes 80 percent of all people itch, including Kasson, who pointed out a place on his leg.

“I have a patch here on my leg. See all those red spots?”

These men have found a naturally-growing fungus that kills healthy poison ivy plants.
Jelesko was asked if this new fungus could be a game changer.

“This could be on many accounts. For one thing, [this] natural fungus we found [grows] internally from the plants.”

What’s not known yet is why this fungus kills the plant, but it does. Just as important, said Kasson, the fungus is host specific — meaning it only kills poison ivy.

“We took a plug of the growing fungus culture and we placed it right up against the healthy poison ivy plant and within a few weeks, we should see disease develop naturally in these plants.”

Jelesko said his research began after the derecho of 2012. He was cleaning up his yard and using an electric chainsaw to cut down felled trees. The power cord he said, was dragging right through poison ivy. Jelesko’s wife told him not to do it. For 16 days, he suffered as the rash became worse.

“Yeah, probably the important rule here is always listen to your wife.”

The next step researchers say, is to find someone whom they can partner with, to get this product on the market.

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Virginia Tech researchers say they've found natrual way to control poison ivy

Time to be on the lookout for Poison Ivy

The saying “leaves of three let it be” is a good start to protect yourself from poison ivy but officials say there’s more you need to look for.

When trying to find poison ivy, it can come in all shapes and sizes. Max Glover with the University of Missouri Extension said they can appear in almost any area but you’re most likely to find them in places you don’t keep maintained.

“The conditions in terms of habitat and something for the vein to grow on. It tends to like a shady area and the areas that don’t get mowed frequently are the areas where it shows up the most,” Glover said.

Glover said if you do find poison ivy in your garden or around your house, treating it with chemicals is the best way to kill it, however it may take more than one attempt.

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Time to be on the lookout for Poison Ivy

Season of the itch: Poison ivy haunts the Hudson Valley

How to spot, avoid, remove and recover from poison ivy


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WHITE PLAINS – Like Jaws, it’s worthy of its own ominous theme song. Yet it sits in silence (The Coasters’ 1959 hit aside), waving in the breeze, lying in wait for contact with an errant ankle or hand.

Poison ivy, known formally as toxicodendron radicans and less formally as a three-leaf, itch-inducing nightmare, is found throughout the region. (Poison oak and poison sumac can grow here, too, but are less common.) It grows on the ground, in hedges, over stone walls and up trees. And while birds eat its fruit and goats don’t mind gnawing its leaves, it seems to exist at least in part simply to vex gardeners, hikers and anyone else who otherwise enjoys the outdoors.

It has three leaflets with smooth or toothed edges and, depending on the time of year, ranges in color from light green to scarlet.

An inadvertent touch from the plant, which contains a toxic oil called urushiol, can result in a blistering rash that itches like crazy and, in some cases, leads to infection and a trip to the emergency room.

Jerry Giordano, senior horticultural consultant with the Cornell Co-operative Extension, is one of the lucky ones. He’s not allergic to urushiol—for now. In a recent field study, he said, “I would be brushing up against it all the time and I never got any reaction to it. But that can change.”

Some things to know:

• Poison ivy is toxic year-round. Even if yanked from the soil and left for dead, the urushiol in its leaves, stem and roots can remain potent for a year or more. Urushiol on clothes is dangerous, too, so wash any pants, socks or shirts that come in contact with the plant.

• Removing poison ivy from a yard or garden can be difficult. “As soon as you see a seedling, you should get it out,” Giordano said. “Look at your property and root it out when you first find it.” Eradicating a mature stand of poison ivy can take several seasons of spraying, often with considerable collateral damage to nearby plants. Don’t burn it, as the smoke can carry the oil into nearby lungs.

• Skin that comes in contact with the plant should be washed immediately with cold water and dish soap or any of several ivy-specific soaps available at drug stores. “Calamine lotion is still a good thing,” Dr. David Amler, a White Plains pediatrician, said. “If you get a more extensive rash, which increases as time goes on, we use oral steriods,” which must be prescribed. “It’s itchy, it’s bothersome, it’s a pain,” Amler said. “You’re scratching all the time.”

The best advice comes from Rockland County Public Health Educator Pat Parke: “Avoid it.”

Twitter: @NPRauch


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Season of the itch: Poison ivy haunts the Hudson Valley

Scientists weed out pesky poison ivy with discovery of killer fungus

Much to the chagrin of gardeners, hikers, and virtually anyone enjoying the outdoors, one of the hazards of summer is picking up an itchy poison ivy rash.

But researchers in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences have found an effective way to kill poison ivy using a naturally occurring fungus that grows on the fleshy tissue surrounding the plant’s seed, potentially giving homeowners and forest managers the ability to rid landscapes of the pernicious pest. Their findings could make the maddening itch of the summer season a thing of the past for the untold millions who are allergic to the plant.

The study was published this week in the journal Plant Disease and is a first of its kind on a plant that affects millions but has had surprisingly little research done on it.

John Jelesko, an associate professor of plant pathology, physiology, and weed science, began studying the plant after experiencing a nasty poison ivy rash himself while doing some yard work. Much to his surprise, there was scant research focused on the plant itself. Most of the work was centered on urushiol, the rash-causing chemical found in the plant’s oils. Urushiol is extremely potent. Only one nanogram is needed to cause a rash, and the oil can remain active on dead plants up to five years.

But rather than focusing on urushiol, Jelesko set about studying ways to kill the plant itself. He worked with Matt Kasson on the project, a senior research associate in the same department.

“This poison ivy research has the potential to affect the untold millions of people who are allergic to poison ivy,” said Jelesko, a Fralin Life Science Institute faculty member. “We have the makings of a nonchemical way to control an invasive plant that can be used by homeowners and others who manage outdoor sites.”

Their work is especially valuable in light of the fact that a 2006 study showed that as the planet warms, poison ivy is predicted to grow faster, bigger, and more allergenic, causing much more serious reactions that could send an increasing number of people to the doctor for prescription medications.

“When poison ivy can’t be treated with over-the-counter treatments and requires an outpatient visit, then we are talking about a public health concern that is very real,” said Kasson.


The research team discovered the killer fungus in their initial attempts to generate microbe-free poison ivy seedlings to use in their studies. Jelesko noticed that not only were some of the seeds failing to germinate, but on the seedlings that did germinate, there was a blight wiping out the young seedlings. Jelesko enlisted the help of Kasson to isolate what he suspected was a fungus causing disease in the plants. The team discovered that the fungus was growing on all the plants that died and the seeds that didn’t germinate.

The fungus caused wilt and chlorophyll loss on the seedlings just by placing it at the junction of the main stem and root collar of the plant at three weeks post-inoculation. At seven weeks post-inoculation, all but one of the plants had died.

Though herbicides are available to kill poison ivy, Jelesko and Kasson said that if this fungus were developed into a commercial application, it would not only be more effective than its chemical counterparts, but also have the benefit of being completely natural.

“We have to keep in mind that the chemicals used to control poison ivy are general herbicides, meaning that they will affect and probably kill many other plant species, so their use in large areas is not always practical,” said Thomas Mitchell, associate professor of fungal biology and molecular genetics at Ohio State University who is familiar with the research but not affiliated with it. “This work shows promise for an alternative approach to the use of chemicals and has great potential as a biological control alternative. This type of approach, using native pathogens to control noxious and invasive plants, is gaining more much deserved recognition.”

Kasson, whose research is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, believes it would be relatively simple to develop a soil granular to spread on top of poison ivy-infested areas in yards and recreational areas such as campgrounds to naturally infect the plants and kill them.

After Kasson successfully isolated the fungus in pure culture from infected , a DNA analysis revealed that the fungus—Colletotrichum fioriniae—is also widely known as an insect pathogen that kills an invasive bug that infests and kills hemlock trees.

In all of the natural world, only humans are allergic to poison ivy and its itch-inducing oil, urushiol.

“Humans appear to be uniquely allergic to urushiol,” said Jelesko. “Goats eat it, deer eat it, and birds eat the seeds, all to no ill effects.”

Jelesko and Kasson have filed for a patent disclosure of their current findings, and say that this research just scratches the surface of possible avenues for the study of poison ivy.


Explore further:

Fungus may help stop invasive spread of tree-of-heaven

More information: “First Report of Seedling Blight of Eastern Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) by Colletotrichum fioriniae in Virginia.” M. T. Kasson, J. R. Pollok, E. B. Benhase, and J. G. Jelesko, Plant Disease 2014 98:7, 995-995. dx.doi.org/10.1094/PDIS-09-13-0946-PDN

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Scientists weed out pesky poison ivy with discovery of killer fungus

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