For all you summertime explorers beware of that harmless looking plant over there because if you decide you want to rub up next to it—you just may wind up with a nasty itchy rash, commonly referred to as poison ivy—not fun!
The best way to keep away from this plant is knowing what it looks like. For the poison ivy sufferer he or she already knows what it looks like because once you have been a victim, you never want to ever risk exposure to that plant again.
If you are walking along on a wooded path and you happen to see a plant that has clusters of three leaves—it is best to stay away from that one. It will look like a perfectly harmless plant. There are no thorns and it just sways there in the open—you may even feel like gravitating toward it because it looks so harmless, but do not do it! That harmless three leaved devil will leave you on your back with a rash all over your body while everyone tells you “don’t scratch.” Easy for someone else to say—when that stuff is itching every fiber of your being—but, no, scratching is a no, no because the more you scratch at it the more it spreads—talk about brutal.
If you believe you have come into contact with poison ivy, shower as fast as you can and toss all of your clothes into the wash. Even if the plant rubs onto your clothes, you are still susceptible because the sap or oil from the plant is highly contagious. If you happen to rub that area of your clothes that came into contact with the plant, well then you probably will have a break out, even though you did not actually touch the plant—just your clothes did. Poison ivy is that strong. If you can, however, wash it off in time, you may have a chance of at least lessening the break out.
Once exposed, the actual rash will not break out onto your skin until 24 to 48 hours later. In its first break out stage—stay away from people because you are highly contagious at this point, especially if you scratch and leave the area bruised and exposed from scratching. Just touching someone with the infected exposed area will have him or her right along next to you in a day or two with the same nasty itchy rash, and he or she will not be happy with you.
Not everyone is allergic to poison ivy or else the fortunate ones were simply never exposed. Experts say that whenever a person makes contact with the plant’s contagious element, the oil (urushiol), he or she will eventually have a break out. Some people are fortunate enough to never have come into contact with the contagious plant and therefore deem themselves not allergic. But for the more adventurous type—it is only a matter of time before a break out is imminent.