"Leaves of three, leave them be," the old timers used to say.

This is the time of year when poison ivy begins to flourish here in Maine as the plant that lay dormant during the cold winter months begins to sprout from a vine and stand upright, producing those familiar three leaves that most of us know to leave alone.

As the ivy grows upright from the ground the winding vine makes its way to other things upright, like phone poles and trees. It lies there waiting for you to walk through it, so that when the resin that it creates called urushiol touches your skin, it can eventually turn into a red itchy and sometimes blistering rash.

You may get the rash from holding an outdoor cat that had ran through a patch of ivy, or, you may get it just by touching your pant leg after using a weed whacker that has spread it amongst your clothing.

If you happen to touch the ivy, you'll only have just a few minutes to wash it off your skin. The CDC recommends "rubbing alcohol, specialized poison plant washes, degreasing soap (such as dishwashing soap) or detergent, and lots of water." Some have recommended Fast Orange heavy duty hand soap to us, because of its gritty feel that will extract the ivy oil from your skin. Tide laundry detergent as well has been recommended over the years as that too will extract the ivy oil.

If and when a rash does develop, the CDC says to use wet compresses, calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream, and even Benadryl to relieve the symptoms.

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