My kids like to play by a nearby wooded area, near a creek. I can't blame them, as it seems like a lot of fun, but they keep getting poison ivy. Do you have any poison ivy prevention tips?
If your child has developed a rash after being around poison ivy before, he almost certainly will again. That makes it important to try and avoid poison ivy in the future.
Although a bad case of poison ivy can be enough incentive for some kids to avoid poison ivy plants, some kids will need to review these poison ivy prevention tips over and over.
Poison Ivy Prevention
The best poison ivy prevention tips usually include learning to identify poison ivy plants (or poison oak and poison sumac) and avoid them.
- looking for and getting rid of poison ivy plants in and around your yard
- remembering that the roots and stems of poison ivy plants contain urushiol and can still trigger a poison ivy rash, even when they don't have any leaves in the winter or fall
- watching for posted poison ivy warning signs indicating that poison ivy is growing in the area
- avoiding places where poison ivy likes to grow, such as along trails, along tree lines, and around ponds and lakes
Instead, stick to paths and trails, and avoid shortcuts through the woods, which might save you some time, but will likely get you a poison ivy rash.
Poison Ivy Playgrounds
Since many of the "wild" areas where poison ivy typically grows are very tempting spots for kids to go off playing and exploring, do a little exploring of your own first to make sure that they are free of poison ivy or make them off-limits to your kids.
When that doesn't seem reasonable, some other poison ivy prevention tips that you encourage your kids to follow include:
- wear long pants and a shirt with long sleeves (preferably made of wool), boots and gloves (vinyl, plastic, or leather gloves) when they will be most at risk for poison ivy, especially when playing in wooden areas, around lakes, or going on hikes
- apply Ivy-Block, an over-the-counter lotion, to any uncovered areas of skin that might touch poison ivy plants
Be sure to carefully wash exposed clothing, preferably with bleach, so that any urushiol on the clothing doesn't trigger a poison ivy rash itself.
Avoiding Poison Ivy
If your child is exposed to poison ivy, despite your best efforts to help him avoid any nearby poison ivy plants, your best bet is try and get the urushiol resin off his skin. You can sometimes do this by applying a product such as Tecnu Extreme Poison Ivy Scrub to the exposed area. Apply as directed on the label with a small amount of water, gently rub it over the exposed skin, and then rinse it off with water.Alternative poison ivy remedies when you have been exposed to poison ivy include:
- washing with Zanfel Poison Ivy Wash
- applying rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol to exposed areas of skin and then washing it off
To be most effective, or sometimes to even have any chance at working, you typically have to try and wash off the urushiol within 10 to 20 minutes after being exposed to poison ivy.
It might also be helpful to see your pediatrician at the first sign of a poison ivy rash if your child is prone to severe poison ivy reactions, as an early, aggressive treatment with steroids may be helpful.
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