Tips for dealing with poison ivy this summer

YORK, Pa. (WHTM) – Recently, several members of our abc27 team have fallen victim to poison ivy.

Don’t let the pesky plant catch you by surprise this holiday weekend.

It’s these overgrown patches on neighborhood street that worry some people, like Justin Shifflett and Ashley Thorsen.

They can’t be entirely sure what’s in them, and they could be coming out with a pretty bad rash.

Or worse, in Shifflett’s case. He and Thorsen both watch carefully.

“My job was landscaping and cleaning out back yards and stuff like that,” Shifflett said, “so I was getting into it pretty regularly, not knowing it.”

Usually, poison ivy only produces an itchy rash for one to three weeks.

But Shifflett is highly allergic.

When he comes in contact with it, he usually has to go to the hospital.

“I break out,” he said, “and then it spreads like rapid fire all over my body.”

“We see somebody every day with it,” said Dr. Linda Taylor, a physician at Patient First in York.

She said that’s not more than normal.

This year so far has been pretty average for poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac.

“First thing you want to do is wash off with warm, soapy water, or take a shower,” she said, “and, you know, it shouldn’t be too hot or too cold.”

Wear pants and long sleeves outside if you think you might come in contact with it.

And remember, the oil from the plant is what causes a reaction.

“If you’ve got a pet with you, you might want to make sure to give them a bath afterwards,” Taylor said.

Pets can’t get a reaction, but they can give it to you later through the oil in their fur.

The same goes for clothes: Wash them in warm water at least once to make sure the oil’s gone.

As for your reaction, if it’s just a rash, it takes a little time to go away, but isn’t too serious.

But if your eyes get swollen or you have trouble breathing, go to the hospital.

“We still struggle with trying to prevent it and trying to help [Shifflett] with it,” Thorsen said.

One more quick tip: Never burn poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac.

The oil particles can mix in with the smoke, and that can be just as bad, if not worse, than touching it.

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