Why Is Poison Ivy Poisonous?

Poison ivy is a vine that straggles over the ground or winds itself around tree trunks, or even forms its own bush if it has nothing to wind itself around.

The poison ivy leaf is made up of three leaflets. These leaflets contain poisonous oil that irritates the skin of anyone touching them. This oil can stick to clothing as well and irritate the skin that rubs against the clothing.

Poison ivy is contagious only if the oil on a person’s skin comes in contact with another person’s skin. After the oil touches the skin, itching and reddening develop, and blisters form. Sometimes this oil can be washed away with soap and water before it penetrates the skin, and the disease can be avoided. However, if the reddening and blisters do develop, they can be eased with calamine lotion, Epsom salts, or bicarbonate of soda.

The best treatment, however, is prevention, and knowing how to recognize and avoid poison ivy can accomplish this.

Poison ivy leaves are red in early spring and a shiny green in late spring and summer. In the fall, they turn red or orange. Small bunches of green flowers grow on the stem in the summer, and later in the season small yellow-white berries form.