Skip to main content

How To Identify Poison Ivy Once and for All

Poison ivy is a scourge to many, but not all. Though an unpleasant, itchy result after touching anything like poison ivy, poison oak, or even poison sumac has been drilled into the minds of many, it’s actually a misconception. All of those plants contain a type of oil, urushiol, which many people have an allergic reaction to. Not everyone reacts to the plant, though.

If you already know you are allergic you will rightly want to stay away from the plant, and if you’re unsure, you still should probably not chance it. That’s why it is very important to know what poison ivy looks like in all seasons so you can stay far away from all parts of the plant from the root to the leaves.

Related Videos

What Poison Ivy Looks Like

poison ivy in the fall

When poison ivy first arrives in the spring, it comes with a bright red warning sign. The leaves, which typically grow in clusters of three, are a bright red color. Usually, there will be some green under the leaves too either in the stems or in the tiny flower buds which turn white as they grow and bloom. By the time summer rolls around, the leaves will be completely green and can grow to be quite large. The leaves can also have deep ridges along their edges depending on where you live, to cloak themselves as other plants. So always remember to count the leaf clusters if you see a questionable plant.

By the time fall comes, the leaves change color again. This time they could be orange, yellow, red, or some combination of these colors. In winter, the leaves become solid red again before dying back and falling from the roots. If nothing but the roots are showing, it will look like a light brown hairy vine. So if you are outdoors, just keep away from the plant if it presents in such a way during any of these seasons.

Look High For Poison Ivy

Poison ivy can grow like a vine, too, and take over trees, structures, and more, so be sure to safely address it if it is growing on your house or somewhere in your backyard. While you’re less likely to touch poison ivy that’s growing high above your head, it is possible that you might clear it away by cutting it back and burning it. It is imperative that you do not burn poison ivy to kill it or get rid of the plant.

When poison ivy is burned, the oil is released into the air. There, the oil can be breathed in and cause an internal reaction. If this happens it typically results in difficulty breathing and can even require a trip to the hospital. Excessive symptoms on the skin can also require a trip to the doctor if they affect sensitive areas, cover a large swath of your body, or pop open with oozing pus.

How to Protect Yourself

Most poison ivy reactions just result in a red, itchy rash, blisters, or swelling and can last for two to three weeks. It typically takes 12 hours to two days for symptoms to develop, and the extent to which they appear depends on how much of the oil you were exposed to. To prevent this from happening, there are some things you can do in addition to identifying and staying clear of the plants.

Wear clothes that fully cover your skin such as long-sleeve shirts and long pants while in areas where there could be poison ivy plants. If you know that you or your pets have been exposed to the oil, you can wash with soap and water for up to an hour after the exposure to minimize the effects. Finally, you can also use a barrier cream similar to a liquid bandage to help protect your skin from interacting with the oil. So try these preventative methods to avoid an uncomfortable outbreak.

Editors' Recommendations

How To Use a Foam Roller Like a Personal Sports Masseuse
Foam roller exercise

Contrary to their innocent appearance against the backdrop of huge weights and complicated exercise machines at the gym, foam rollers are actually quite powerful tools of self-myofascial release -- otherwise known as self-massage -- when used the right way. They can help flexibility, boost circulation, reduce soreness, increase range of motion, and remove lactic acid to speed workout recovery. This exercise can be done pre or post-workout, or even at home on off-days. On top of that, foam rollers cost only a fraction of what a sports therapist or deep-tissue masseuse will charge you for a similar experience.

“All men can benefit from foam rolling, whether you're a weekend warrior or an ultra-marathoner. Stress, diet, and your daily life are also reasons why foam rolling is for everyone. Starting tomorrow with just a couple of minutes of building, the habit and routine will be beneficial for you,” says Bill Elkins, athletic director at New York Health & Racquet Club.

Read more
The Beginner’s Guide to Mountain Running for a Strength-Building Cardio Workout
beginners guide to mountain running the

One of the best things about running as a sport is that it can be done virtually anywhere. From tracks to treadmills, neighborhood roads to sandy beaches, and city parks to mountain trails, there’s a type of terrain, setting, or style of running to suit every guy’s preferences. If you’re an outdoorsy guy, or simply want to get out and enjoy the great outdoors more, you might want to consider taking up mountain running.
Related Guides

Trail Running for Beginners
How to Start Running
How to Train for Half Marathon

Read more
The 10 Camping Toiletries You Need for a Weekend (or Week) in the Woods
camping toiletries best 2021

Going out into the wilderness on a hiking expedition or camping trip can give you a much-needed perspective change on just about all of life's greatest mysteries. It's like pushing the reset button on the human being's operating system. When you get back, you're completely refreshed and performing optimally across all facets of your life. Among other things, it shows you just how few things you need to exist in blissful harmony with nature.

When you're out there in the woods, you don't need much aside from the best camping tent you can get, a sleeping bag, and some cooking gear for your camping meals. However, just because you pack light doesn't mean you should skimp on the toiletries. It's an essential step that many people forget. You want a few items to clean yourself up after an all-day hike or fishing adventure. It is possible to look and smell clean, even if you go off the grid for a few days. Heck, you might even feel so fresh and rejuvenated that you extend your stay for an extra day or two. Real life can wait – the great outdoors are calling.

Read more