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Old 03-29-2011, 11:45 PM
 
221 posts, read 981,462 times
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I didn't know where to put this thread (Iowa? Gardening? Rural Living?) but thought I'd try here first.

I'm about to move to a historic farm in Iowa which has a huge woodlot, and I've been told that those woods are full of poison ivy. I'm VERY allergic to poison ivy. The last two times my allergic reaction wasn't just the rash but also facial swelling. Scary! I have had to get a shot (epinephrin???) in the rear to bring down the swelling.

I told the last Dr. I saw for this that I thought I had been exposed via touching my dog's fur after she had run though a patch of pi. But the Dr. said that wasn't possible, that there had to be direct skin contact with a pi plant for an allergic reaction to occur.

That can't be true! Everyone who lives in this area knows that an allergic reaction to poison ivy can also occur via exposure to pi oils on the fur of a pet which has run through a patch of pi, or touching clothes which have been in contact with pi, or getting smoke in your eyes from pi which is being burned, or accidentally touching the ooze from another person's pi rash, and probably other disgusting ways.

So, do you think the Dr. was right, or am I correct? Do any of you know of other ways of exposure other than direct skin contact with a pi plant?

And to be practical, what can I do to avoid having a reaction in my new home, since exposure will probably be inevitable? I've heard there is a vaccination of some sort, but that it doesn't work well. Any advice is very welcome!
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Old 03-30-2011, 06:00 AM
 
Location: In a house
13,258 posts, read 34,613,675 times
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Your doctor is misinformed. Poison ivy can infect through dust in the air. You don't have to have direct contact with the plant, OR an animal who's touched it. You only need to be near the patch of ivy, and upwind of it, to become infected.

I'm immune to it, my husband is not. My sister is allergic. So here's what we do, in order for my sister to come visit during poison ivy season:

1. Our wooded lot is fenced in, so the bulk of the poison ivy is on the other side of the fence. This provides a protective physical barrier so the wind doesn't blow it down into the yard. It isn't foolproof but it's still very effective.

2. When I see the ivy starting to crawl onto the fence, I go to the fence and yank it off, bag it, and throw it in the trash.

3. I have a spot-killer for stubborn ivies. It looks like a pen, but the ball point is spring-loaded and inside it is the weed killer. You just press down on the tip, it releases the weedkiller directly onto the ivy, and in three days the whole plant is dead. You'll need someone else to do this for you.

If you're in the yard when someone is doing the yanking, make sure you're wearing long sleeves and eyeglasses, gloves and a surgical mask until an hour after they're done. The dust can remain in the air for awhile. Stay out of the woods. Poison ivy dust can be inhaled, get in your eyes and nose. During pollen season, stay inside or wear a gauze facewrap if you need to be out in the yard.
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Old 03-30-2011, 06:38 AM
 
Location: San Antonio, TX
10,860 posts, read 18,883,731 times
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You should ask your doctor about epi-pens. They're commonly prescribed for severe generalized allergic reactions. It's a shot of epinephrine that you can administer yourself, if you're having a severe reaction. You have to go to the hospital after you use it, but most serious allergic reactions get worse every time you're exposed to the allergen, so there's a chance that sometime when you have a reaction, it could cause enough swelling to interfere with your ability to breathe. The epi-pen controls the reaction long enough that you can get help. If you live somewhere really rural, you probably need a prescription for several pens.

You should probably see an allergist, if possible.
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Old 03-30-2011, 07:36 AM
 
Location: Texas
14,078 posts, read 17,034,362 times
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Your best defenses against Poison Ivy (and Poison Oak, which is really just Poison Ivy exposed to sufficient sunlight) are these:

1. Roundup Poison Ivy spray. It WILL kill it when the leaves are out. After that, you can mow it down before it gets to be a problem.

2. Cold water and soap. Wash off as soon as you can after being around it. Hot water will open the skin's pores and allow the oil in, so use cold water for the initial wash.

3. Rubbing alcohol. Follow up a wash off with an alcohol scrub.

4. If you're really allergic to it, change clothes before coming into the house and throw the dirty ones into the washing machine immediately and directly. Don't put them in the hamper. Overall's work well for this problem because you can slip them on over your regular clothes.

5. Keep the dog in the house and/or fence off the ivy so he can't get into it.
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Old 03-30-2011, 07:45 AM
 
1,135 posts, read 1,769,293 times
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I have had the same type of reaction with poison ivy/oak....swelling and all. Yes, the oils can be transmitted from a dog. I don't want to share my worst fiasco. But, there is now a vaccine against poison ivy; I just don't know the success rate. Luckily I moved to a part of the country that doesn't have it or I'd be checking into it!
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Old 03-30-2011, 11:00 AM
 
Location: Georgia, USA
21,498 posts, read 26,089,700 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnonChick View Post
Your doctor is misinformed. Poison ivy can infect through dust in the air. You don't have to have direct contact with the plant, OR an animal who's touched it. You only need to be near the patch of ivy, and upwind of it, to become infected.

I'm immune to it, my husband is not. My sister is allergic. So here's what we do, in order for my sister to come visit during poison ivy season:

1. Our wooded lot is fenced in, so the bulk of the poison ivy is on the other side of the fence. This provides a protective physical barrier so the wind doesn't blow it down into the yard. It isn't foolproof but it's still very effective.

2. When I see the ivy starting to crawl onto the fence, I go to the fence and yank it off, bag it, and throw it in the trash.

3. I have a spot-killer for stubborn ivies. It looks like a pen, but the ball point is spring-loaded and inside it is the weed killer. You just press down on the tip, it releases the weedkiller directly onto the ivy, and in three days the whole plant is dead. You'll need someone else to do this for you.

If you're in the yard when someone is doing the yanking, make sure you're wearing long sleeves and eyeglasses, gloves and a surgical mask until an hour after they're done. The dust can remain in the air for awhile. Stay out of the woods. Poison ivy dust can be inhaled, get in your eyes and nose. During pollen season, stay inside or wear a gauze facewrap if you need to be out in the yard.
I do not believe that the oil from poison ivy gets into the air unless the plant is burned. Then it clings to particles of ash and can be spread that way. Pollen from the plant will not cause a reaction.

If you are going to remove plants yourself, I would suggest using protective clothing as if you were sensitized. Though you may not react now, you may become allergic at any time.

Here is a good summary on poison ivy:

HowStuffWorks "How Poison Ivy Works" (http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/life/botany/poison-ivy.htm - broken link)

I react to poison ivy. We live on nine acres. My approach has been to kill it wherever I find it, using Round-Up. The dogs are confined to a fenced area, and I have eliminated the plants that were there when we built the house. Anyone who is highly sensitive to poison ivy might want to pay a professional landscape maintenance company to remove it. The cost to avoid three weeks of itching is worth it!

To the OP: even though you will be living in a rural area, please do not allow your dogs to roam free. Aside from the risk of bringing poison ivy into your home (and car), they can get lost or injured, chase deer (and livestock) and otherwise get into mischief.

Learn what the plants look like, remove them where you can, do not go into areas that potentially have poison ivy without wearing long sleeves and pants, and consider using Ivy Block on your hands and face. When you come inside, wash the clothes immediately in warm water and wash skin in cool water. Do not forget to wash tools that may have been exposed to the oils as well as footwear.

If you have an Epi Pen, make sure it is not out of date. The pharmacy may swap it out for you if it has expired.

May you all have an itch free summer!

Edited to add: you cannot get poison ivy by touching someone's rash, presuming the skin has been washed to remove the oil.
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Old 03-30-2011, 11:50 AM
 
Location: Texas
14,078 posts, read 17,034,362 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by suzy_q2010 View Post
I do not believe that the oil from poison ivy gets into the air unless the plant is burned. Then it clings to particles of ash and can be spread that way.
I thought that too until a couple of years ago when I had to call the fire department for a brush fire on my place. (Yes, I started it!)

I told the incident commander about the presence of poison ivy and he wasn't concerned about it all. He said they'd never had a problem with exposure to burning poison ivy.
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Old 03-30-2011, 11:51 AM
 
Location: In a house
13,258 posts, read 34,613,675 times
Reputation: 20198
I've been immune to it all my life. My sister has had a lifelong allergy. My husband, so far as I know, has had the usual common sensitivity to it all his life. I'm also immune to a lot of other things that are common allergens, so I chalk it up to having just that kind of immune system. I do wear gloves when I'm yanking on the vines, but I really don't worry about it because it never affects me. The gloves are more for traction than anything else. Ivy vines can be stubborn and slippery.

As for the air thing, I think I remember that now, about the burning and ash. So then to clarify: it -can- spread through the air, under the right circumstances (that being through ash from a leafpile containing ivy being burned in the next door neighbor's yard on a breezy day).
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Old 03-30-2011, 11:53 AM
 
Location: In a house
13,258 posts, read 34,613,675 times
Reputation: 20198
Quote:
Originally Posted by stillkit View Post
I thought that too until a couple of years ago when I had to call the fire department for a brush fire on my place. (Yes, I started it!)

I told the incident commander about the presence of poison ivy and he wasn't concerned about it all. He said they'd never had a problem with exposure to burning poison ivy.
Firemen are not in the habit of showing up to put out fires with their hands and arms exposed. They probably never had a problem with it, because they wear protective eye coverings and inhalation protection, hats, long sleeves, fireproof gloves, long pants, socks, safety boots, and outer coats. Exposure to much of anything shouldn't be a very big problem to them.
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Old 03-30-2011, 12:39 PM
 
Location: Georgia, USA
21,498 posts, read 26,089,700 times
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Another great link:

http://waynesword.palomar.edu/ww0802.pdf

Apparently firefighters do have a problem.
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