To prevent poison ivy rash, follow these tips:

  • Avoid the plants. Learn how to identify poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac in all seasons. When hiking or engaging in other activities that might expose you to these plants, try to stay on cleared pathways. If camping, make sure you pitch your tent in an area free of these plants.

    Keep pets from running through wooded areas so that urushiol doesn't accidentally stick to their fur, which you then may touch.

  • Wear protective clothing. If needed, protect your skin by wearing socks, boots, pants, long sleeves and vinyl gloves.
  • Remove or kill the plants. In your yard, you can get rid of poison ivy by applying an herbicide or pulling it out of the ground, including the roots, while wearing heavy gloves. Afterward remove the gloves and thoroughly wash them and your hands. Don't burn poison ivy or related plants because the urushiol can be carried by the smoke.
  • Wash your skin or your pet's fur. Within 30 minutes after exposure, use soap and water to gently wash off the harmful resin from your skin. Scrub under your fingernails too. This helps prevent a rash. Even washing after an hour or so can help reduce the severity of the rash.

    If you think your pet may be contaminated with urushiol, put on some long rubber gloves and give your pet a bath.

  • Clean contaminated objects. If you think you've come into contact with poison ivy, wash your clothing promptly with detergent — ideally in a washing machine. Handle contaminated clothes carefully so that you don't transfer the urushiol to yourself, furniture, rugs or appliances.

    Also wash any other contaminated items — such as outdoor gear, garden tools, jewelry, shoes and even shoelaces — as soon as possible. Urushiol can remain potent for years. So if you put away a contaminated jacket without washing it and take it out a year later, the oil on the jacket may still cause a rash.

  • Apply a barrier cream. Try over-the-counter skin products that are intended to act as a barrier between your skin and the oily resin that causes poison ivy rash.
Aug. 11, 2015