See this picture? Print it out and put it on your refrigerator!
This is what poison plants look like. Teach yourself and your kids to recognize them. Take this photo with you when you go out hiking or camping.
A nasty rash is caused by contact with an oil (urushiol) found in poison ivy, oak, or sumac. The oil is present in all parts of the plants, including the leaves, stems, flowers, berries, and roots.
You can even get poison ivy from other people, so if the oil rubs off onto something like a handle that other people use, it can spread easily through a group from one person's exposure to it.
If you've come into contact with poison ivy, oak or sumac, a rash can appear anytime from 5 hours to 15 days after you are first exposed.
You can't get poison ivy from another person's rash, only from the oil so even if a rash blisters and bursts (as it often will) it is not contagious.
If you think you or your child has been exposed to poison ivy, oak or sumac, immediately rinse the possible affected area to reduce the effects and prevent additional exposure.
If the rash is severe, see a doctor. While most poison ivy rashes are treated with topical lotions like calamine and over the counter antihistimines, in severe cases a doctor may want to prescribe a corticosteriod treatment.
The best treatment is to avoid contact in the first place, so learn to recognize the plants, cover up skin that may be inadverdantly exposed while outdoors or use a barrier cream to prevent direct contact with skin.
Avoid an itchy summer by avoiding poison ivy, oak and sumac!