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How Poison Ivy Works


Avoiding Poison Ivy
This product claims to protect you against poison ivy.
This product claims to protect you against poison ivy.
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Poison ivy is often difficult to avoid. Even if you don't directly brush up against the plant, you can get poison ivy from touching a garden tool, ball, or even a pet (animals don't have the same sensitivity) that has urushiol on it. Some creams containing the ingredient bentoquatum can block urushiol and offer some protection before poison ivy exposure. Still, your best defense is to stay away from poison ivy and to get rid of it in your yard.

Try spraying the plant with a weed killer.
Try spraying the plant with a weed killer.
Photo courtesy HowStuffWorks Shopper

But the plant is not an easy foe to defeat. If you spray it with a weed killer (products such as Roundup and Kleenup, which contain the ingredient glyphosate), you may kill the poison ivy, but you must be careful not to kill any other plants around it. The other option is to remove the poison ivy by hand, but you must wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, gloves, and boots to avoid any contact with your skin. Clean your clothes as soon as you're finished with water and soap or isopropyl alcohol. Be sure to pull the plants out from the roots, because any trace of a plant you leave behind can regrow. Never burn the plant, because the urushiol vaporizes when heated. When it gets into the smoke, it can severely irritate the lungs.

To find out more about poison ivy and related topics, check out the links on the following page.

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