How to Recognize Itchy Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac in the Kentucky Woods
If I had a picture of what I'm about to tell you, I wouldn't show it to you. It may be the worst case of poison ivy I have ever seen.
When I was a kid, a friend of mine jumped over his back fence to retrieve a baseball and within minutes a horrible poison ivy rash began to develop. It eventually covered both of his legs up one side and down the other. We're talking about some pretty large blisters.
It couldn't have been comfortable--to say the least--but being a kid, he thought it was pretty cool. I wasn't so sure I agreed with him.
But I can understand what happened. Poison ivy just doesn't look like anything of note, but it's obviously wise to be familiar with its appearance. I've always gone back and forth--is it a three-pronged leaf or is it a plant with three leaves. Well, thankfully, this eliminates the guessing game. (By the way, I can't remember the last time I had poison ivy, so you'll understand why I'm not sure what I'm looking for.)
As far as poison oak is concerned, I really don't think I've ever seen it. So I checked with KentuckyLiving.com and got a reason--poison oak is not commonly found in Kentucky. It's much more common in the western United States. So if you travel out west this year for, say, a hiking excursion, keep this in mind:
Finally, poison sumac. Again, here's one I've never seen before, and that's not really a good thing. Because poison sumac CAN be found in Kentucky and the rash packs a burning and itching wallop. And yes, there will be blisters. But after seeing it, I can understand why it gets people. It just looks like an ordinary weed.
When I researched how to treat these annoyances--and, again, I'm not very concerned about poison oak--I learned that it's pretty much the same for all three. Interestingly, a substance manufactured specifically for the treatment of poison ivy, oak, and sumac doesn't come as highly recommended as a common grease remover mechanics use.
Enjoy the warm weather; it's going to come at us in a hurry. But it will be FAR more enjoyable if you're not scratching the top layer of skin off your body.