CacheCrazy.Com: LEAVES OF THREE...

Thursday, July 17, 2014



Grab a cup of coffee, or tea, sit back and let the
scratching begin; or not.

Ever have one of those caching trips where you approach the cache just to find out that there are these little vines with pretty little leaves  surrounding GZ? You know the kind I'm talking about right? You don't? Well let me explain.

The old saying of "leaves of three leave them be" is very true. The leaves I'm talking about are Poison Ivy leaves. This plant grows on a vine and always has three leaves in a clump. It can grow very low to the ground, or it can grow right up the side of a tree.

Poison ivy is dangerous all year long so don't think that just because it's winter-time you're safe because you're not. All it takes is one little touch and you can contract the itchies.

We were in Ohio visiting my sister when we came across a cache that was located in a little woods. The cache page said there was "Some" poison ivy nearby, but what we found was poison ivy everywhere at GZ.  I was able to get in and get it, but it was a little scary. We found lots of caches that trip and they were all around poison ivy. We finally decided that the Ohio State plant should
be poison ivy. Be sure when you're out caching that you check out the attributes listed on the cache page. I have actually contacted some COs and told them they need to update their pages and include the poison ivy icon. The last thing you want is for one of your young ones to get into it unexpectedly.

There is another vine that is similar to poison ivy. It is not poisonous, but it can be mildly irritating to some people.  It has 5 leaves that are green and it is called Virginia Creeper.

               It grows on the ground

              And it grows on trees

Virginia Creeper (Left) Poison Ivy (Right)

So what do you do if you get the sap (urushiol) from a poison ivy plant on yourself? The first thing to do is "Don't panic". You will live through it. If you are allergic to it, and most people are, you will get a red rash wherever you got the sap. Here are some suggestions, from Dr. Greene, if you do get it on yourself:

Here are some tips for treating poison ivy, oak, and sumac rashes:
  • Try using a towel or washcloth soaked in either plain tap water or Burow's Solution (an astringent solution -- you can make it yourself using Domeboro tablets or powder packets available over-the-counter). This can help relieve the intense itching and remove dry crust that has formed as a result of the rash.
  • A fan blowing over the cool compress will diminish some of the heat of the itching and help to dry up some of the ooze coming from the rash. As the skin is cooling, the blood vessels compress and that cuts down on the itching and the new ooze.
  • Some dermatologists recommend rubbing an ice cube gently over the rash several times a day, then letting the skin air-dry.
  • Soaking in a tub, particularly using an oatmeal bath such as Aveeno, can also be very soothing to the itch. Be sure the bath is cool or lukewarm -- but not hot -- as heat tends to make the rash even more inflamed.
  • After the cooling treatment (using any of the forms mentioned above), coat the rash with a shake lotion such as calamine. This continues to relieve the itching and helps to dry up the blisters.
  • Be sure to check the expiration date on an old calamine bottle in your medicine cabinet, since it may not be effective after the expiration date. Be sure the shake lotion does not contain benzocaine, zirconium, or a topical antihistamine, such as Benadryl. These can actually make the rash worse by producing their own allergic reactions when applied to already sensitive skin.
  • Applying hydrocortisone or another topical corticosteroid will help suppress the itching and give temporary relief, but does little to hasten the drying up of the rash.
  • Taking an oral antihistamine, such as Benadryl, can help with the itching quite a bit, although it does not speed up resolution of the rash. Taking Benadryl at nighttime will make most people drowsy and help them sleep through the night without itching.
  • Don't use Benadryl cream or spray topically, because this can cause its own skin reaction.
  • In severe cases of poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac, it is a good idea to see a doctor. Sometimes large blisters need to be drained, and sometimes an oral steroid such as prednisone may be useful. Occasionally, even a steroid injection is needed.
  • Systemic steroids produce rapid resolution of both the itching and the rash. If they are needed, a gradually tapering dosage over about 12 days should be given. The dosage needs to be tapered to avoid side effects after discontinuing use, and the entire course should be taken since stopping earlier may result in a rebound rash as bad as the original.
Author and Review InfoAlan Greene, MD, FAAP

If you're out caching please be careful of this poisonous plant. The last thing you want to do is spend the rest of your day itching because you were not careful. Let's have a safe and non irritating summer. 


Kim@Snug Harbor said...

My son is extremely allergic to poison ivy and had to take prednisone both times he came in contact with it. We try to steer very clear of poison ivy.

smithie23 said...

I had a bout of poison ivy last summer. It was the most uncomfortable 10 days of my life! Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I would get awful outbreaks as a kid and come to find out the neighbor cats (outdoor cats) carried it on their fur so when I would pet them I would contract it. My eyes swelled shut once and now in my 30s one eye still droops. I last had it when I was 17 and somehow this year I came in contact with it. These are what I have found to be most useful: shower immediately with cool water using 'fels-naptha' soap (found usually in laundry aisle and in bar form) as this has no oil so will not spread the Urishol. The only thing that relieves itching for me and reduces inflammation is tea tree oil. You can find it at Rite-aid and such either in vitamin aisle or section where they sell cortizone creams. Dab with a cotton ball, do not rub. This is THE ONLY thing that relieved the maddening itch. wash all clothes immedieately as the oil can stay on for up to two years!

CrazyCris said...

I remember being very scared of brushing up against poison ivy when I was a kid in the US! I'm not sure I ever knew how to identify it properly... It definitely takes a lot of courage to go looking for a cache in GZ full of the stuff!!! :p

Kim@Snug Harbor said...

We've taken to keeping a bottle of Tecnu in our car. It has come in handy twice so far.

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