My 11 year old son gets Poison Ivy every summer. Is there anything I can do to prevent him from getting it?
“Don’t want the itch in N.J.”
Dear “Don’t want the itch”,
Poison Ivy is an allergic skin reaction that children develop after being exposed to Poison Ivy, Poison Oak or Poison Sumac. Any part of the plant, including the twigs, roots, leaves and resin can cause a reaction. The best prevention is to familiarize yourself and your child with the offending plant and stay away from it. The Poison Ivy plant has three notched leaves and grows as a tall shrub or rope like vine. Hence the phrase, “Leaves of three, let them be.” Poison sumac grows as a shrub or tree and has 7 to 13 leaflets arranged in pairs along a central stem with a single leaflet at the end. It grows in woody or swampy areas. Poison oak grows as an upright shrub or tree and is most prominent on the west coast of the United States.(1) If you have Poison Ivy, Oak or Sumac on your property, have it removed in order to cut down the risk of exposure.
If your child is exposed, have him wash with warm soapy water immediately. Remember to wash or discard any other items that came into contact with the plant too; such as clothes, sneakers, toys or athletic equipment. A mixture of cold water and rubbing alcohol will help remove the resin from such equipment. The resin from the plant can be very sticky and remain on objects for a very long time. Your child can be exposed at a later date if contaminated objects are not washed right away. Good Luck!
(1) Hurwitz, S. Clinical Pediatric Dermatology. Pennsylvania: Saunders company, 1993.
Lisa Kelly, P.N.P., C.
Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Advice for Parents- Keeping your child healthy