The itching you're having and blaming on the influx of Harvey mosquitoes could very well be poison ivy in your yard.
KATY MAGAZINE - NOVEMBER, 2017
By Sonya Anderson
Recently, I felt like I was cursed the most awful mosquitoes. Hurricane Harvey certainly didn’t help, but it seemed I just couldn't be inside or outside without getting bit. And to make matters worse, the last time I worked in the yard, it seems like the mosquitoes actually feasted upon me.
The real culprit But I was wrong. The problem wasn’t mosquitoes, gnats, chiggers, or some other unknown biting creature, I finally realized that I had come in contact with POISON IVY! There it was. It was living all this time under my nose in my front yard and back yard. It was primarily trailing around in the mulch, ambling in the ground around the trees, the flower bed. I’m a tree lover and with that comes a protective nature over random, somewhat attractive plants growing in my yard. This lovely looking plant that I have been harboring, rarely pulling or cutting back, was actually poison ivy. I felt like an idiot when I first figured it out. I decided to do some investigating and see where else I could find it around the neighborhood.
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Poison ivy was everywhere
While walking my dog, I started noticing poison ivy in my Katy neighbors' yards too, which by now I could easily identify from a safe distance. Lo and behold, I discovered so much poison ivy masquerading as random ivy (most definitely not planted by the homeowner). So I started doing research on this nuisance plant. According to Katy Area gardeners we spoke to, "poison ivy is everywhere!"
Knowing the symptoms
The symptoms of poison ivy contact begin to appear between 12 and 36 hours after exposure. They include itchy, burning rash followed by small blisters and in severe cases, large blisters and swelling. All parts of the plant are toxic in all seasons. Burning leaves of poison ivy are particularly dangerous because the toxin is carried in the smoke and can cause serious respiratory damage if inhaled.
Identifying Poison Ivy
Here's a great visual graphic for identifying poison ivy, courtesy of poison-ivy.org
“Leaves of three, let it be.”
How poison ivy gets you
At any size, touching the tiniest piece of leaf or any part of the plant can cause you to want to rip your skin off. Once the “urushiol” has a chance to work its nastiness into your skin several hours later, you are in itch agony. About 85% of people who come into contact will have a reaction. A dog or cat that has brushed up against or rolled on it in the yard can also transmit urushiol from their coats to your skin. Inhaled urushiol can cause a very serious allergic reaction.
Five steps for getting rid of poison ivy in your yard
1. Use thick rubber cleaning gloves
2. Get newspaper and a large trash bag
3. With your gloves on, wrap the roots in a paper tow and pull them out
4. As you pull them out keep stems away from you
5. Wrap stems in paper towels and dispose of in plastic trash bag
Then immediately go inside and wash thoroughly with dishwashing soap. Remove and wash any clothes that may have come into contact with it.
In case of exposure
According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, you should Immediately wash the affected area with soap and large amounts of water. This can reduce or eliminate the possible affects. If you were not so lucky to realize beforehand that you were affected, treatment includes keeping the area clean and dry and the topical applications of hydrocortisone creams and lotions. Staying cool can help the itching. If you experience more than a mild outbreak, it is advised that you seek medical attention, since there are stronger products available by prescription.
What Happened in My Case
I didn't sleep much the first several nights after the irritation appeared. It was almost unbearable. After discovering my skin irritation was from poison ivy in my yard, I treated it by soothing each spot with a little ice, cleaning each spot with alcohol, and applying calamine lotion several times a day. I also washed all the clothes carefully that I had worn the day I was exposed. I am waiting until the irritation is completely healed before removing specimens from my yard.
For more information, please visit these helpful website.
American Academy of Dermatology Poison Ivy Page
Texas Parks and Wildlife Poison Ivy Page
SONYA ANDERSON is a mother of three and lives in the Willow Park Greens subdivision of Katy. She enjoys gardening when it isn't 100+ degrees outside and prefers to work with safe plants rather than the poisonous varieties.
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