Department of Natural Resources officials are reminding people to keep an eye out for poison ivy this summer.
The plant can cause some nasty rashes if left untreated. DNR invasive plants coordinator Kelly Kearns says the plant’s oils cause an allergic reaction. “It’s the body producing the itchy rash that’s caused by the poison ivy oils getting on your skin.”
Kearns says the plant itself can be deceptive to spot. “It can be a ground cover, it can be a small shrub, it can be a vine climbing way high up in trees, it can even look like a small tree at times. But it always has three leaflets that are pointy and usually shiny.” The plants tend to grow off the trails and in areas away from heavy traffic.
You likely won’t get a rash the first time you run into it, but Kearns says repeated exposure makes those rashes more likely. “Generally once you’ve gotten poison ivy in the past, you’re much more likely to get it in the future. Even people who think they’re resistant to it or never gotten it could get it at some point.”
If you come in contact with the plant, make sure to get washed up immediately, and get all of the clothes that you’re wearing safely away from skin. If you do get a rash, doctors recommend calamine lotion and antihistamines to treat the body’s reaction.