How to spot and treat poison ivy - Fox 2 News Headlines

How to spot and treat poison ivy

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(WJBK) -  "Leaves of three, let it be."

That's what we've been told since kids but this season you really have to be on the lookout for poison ivy.

According the the MSU Extension Office, the spring rain has lead to a hearty crop of poison ivy.

The plant looks harmless but even Dr. Steve McGraw, an emergency room doctor at Providence Hospital, knows it's not.

"I have actually a scar on my ankle from when I was a little kid and I got it," he says.

Inside the "leaves of three" in an oil that causes a rash, including, itching, swelling and blisters. the problem

"It's like sap. Think of it that way. When you get it on something, if you touch that something, a gardening tool, your shoes, your clothes, a pet, you can then transmit it to yourself pretty easily. It doesn't have to be on an open sore, doesn't have to be on broken skin, just anywhere on the skin. If it's not washed off relatively quickly it can cause a reaction," says McGraw.

He says it can take days for the rash to show up, but once it does you'll need to be careful.

"It'll show up as red little dots that become filled with fluid. It's intensely perridic, very itchy. The best thing to do is to protect the skin. You don't want to break those blisters open. You don't want them to get infected. Some people will actually scratch in their sleep so it's good to trim the nails," says McGraw.

Avoiding poison ivy means learning to identify the plant, wearing long pants and boots if you're walking in a wooded area and to wash your clothes after to make sure no oil residue gets on your skin.

Sometimes, you will need to see a doctor.

"They can get infected and then they'll weep not just clear fluid but, you know, fluid that is like puss. The redness that will spread beyond the blister. They can have a fever, red streaks going up the extremities. Something like that should be seen by a doctor," says McGraw.

He says the best thing to do when you get home after being in the woods is to take a really hot shower with good soap.

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