The Strike of The Poison Sisters (ivy, sumac, & oak)
My friend Kylee announced last week she had contracted a common gardening disease. My exposure coincided with hers, although we live nowhere close to one another. And we aren’t unique this time of year. As seedlings emerge in the warm spring sun, so do we gardeners. For the 85% of Americans who react to some degree to a plant oil called urushiol (yoo-ROO-shee-all), spring springs with more than we’d hoped.
My allergic reaction to urushiol – found in The Poison Sisters (oak, sumac, & ivy) – seems to be increasing annually. Or even semi-annually as I’ve gotten it spring AND fall in the last year. WebMD says it can either become more severe with additional exposures, or go away altogether as you’re desensitized. Mine is not going away. To be honest, the fact I’m more often around it since we bought our farm probably explains the increase in frequency, if not the increase in reaction.
Here’s info on what your skin‘s reaction might look like, and here are photos so you can spot The Poison Sisters before they spot you. My friend Kylee Baumlee – co-author with Jenny Peterson of INDOOR PLANT DECOR from St. Lynn’s Press – shares her suggestions on how to get rid of the plant once you find it on her blog.
Unfortunately, once again I had to go the steroids route to get it under control. Next time I’ll do it differently.
My friend Edgar Graham discovered if he immediately washes the area with DAWN dish detergent to cut the oil, he rarely has a reaction to the poison ivy. If he misses a spot washing and the dermatitis appears, he dabs a product called Zanfel to any bumps and within a few minutes the itch is gone and in a few days the rash disappears. Why Dawn? Maybe the Poison Sisters and Tony Orlando’s girls are like oil and water.