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As fall arrives this month, people will see beautiful bright red vines along paths, wooded areas, and even in the garden.

Very pretty, but do not touch.

Poison ivy is quite showy in the fall, especially with its dramatic reds against the yellow trees. But its vines and leaves are just as dangerous as ever.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, more than 10 million Americans will suffer from that familiar bumpy, blistering rash caused by poison ivy and sumac.

The itch reaction is a rash caused by contact with a substance called urushiol (you-ROO-shee-ol), found in the sap of poison ivy, poison ivy, and poison ivy. Urushiol is a colorless or slightly yellow oil that oozes from any part of the plant when cut or crushed, including the stem and leaves.

You don’t even have to touch the poisonous plants to develop the rash. Urushiol is difficult to destroy, easy to spread, and long-lived. Sticky and almost invisible, it can be worn on animal fur or even tools.

Your mower may spit out pieces of poison ivy. Inhaling them can be very dangerous. Wearing a mask and safety glasses can reduce your risk.

Once it touches the skin, the urushiol begins to bind within minutes. In 85% of people, a reaction will appear as a line or trail of rash (sometimes resembling insect bites) within 12 to 48 hours. The redness and swelling will be followed by blisters and severe itching.

Before the rash sets in, you have about five to 10 minutes to wash off the urushiol with cold water. If you think you have been exposed, immediately wash all exposed areas with cold running water as soon as you can reach a stream, lake, or garden hose. Soap is not necessary and may even spread the oil.

If you develop a rash, avoid scratching the blisters. The fluid in the blisters won’t spread the rash, but the urishiol can get under your fingernails and spread the poison. Your fingernails can also carry germs that can cause infection.


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