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Information on Poison Ivy Ivy, Oak and Sumac

#1 User is offline   Chibbs 

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 12:36 PM

A while ago I did a lot of research and put a poison ivy information thread, that has long since deleted after falling into the archive of the forum, and with summer quickly approaching I thought I would repost it.

I recently took some time to bring many facts from many different sites around the web along with my personal experience with these plants
Most paintballers play outside of parks or at parks that havenít cleared out all of the poison ivy from their fields, i think it is important to be able to identify these plants to so that you can avoid the horrible experiences, I along with Iím sure many other players have faced

1st i would like to dispose many of the myths out there (info taken from http://poisonivy.aes...w/welcome.html)
Myth Poison Ivy rash is contagious.
Fact Rubbing the rashes won't spread poison ivy to other parts of your body (or to another person). You spread the rash only if urushiol oil -- the sticky, resin-like substance that causes the rash -- has been left on your hands. (guys donít go to the bathroom after playing without washing your hands)
Myth You can catch poison ivy simply by being near the plants
Fact Direct contact is needed to release urusiol oil. Stay away from forest fires, direct burning, or anything else that can cause the oil to become airborne such as a lawnmower, trimmer, etc. (i know people who have gotten it in their wind pipes and lungs, generaly ends with a trip to the hospital)
Myth Leaves of three, let them be
Fact Poison sumac has 7 to 13 leaves on a branch, although poison ivy and oak have 3 leaves per cluster.
Myth Do not worry about dead plants
Fact Urushiol oil stays active on any surface, including dead plants, for up to 5 years.
Myth Breaking the blisters releases urushiol oil that can spread
Fact Not true. But your wounds can become infected and you may make the scarring worse. In very extreme cases, excessive fluid may need to be withdrawn by a doctor. (I find the best way it to bandage up your arms with gauze and some medical tape)
Myth I've been in poison ivy many times and never broken out. I'm immune. (i kinda thought this then one time got a mild case on my face, then a small patch on my arm a year later, that year i had 2 severe cases 1 resulting in less then 12 hours of sleep in a week and the other in a trip to the doctors)
Fact Not necessarily true. Upwards of 90% of people are allergic to urushiol oil, it's a matter of time and exposure. The more times you are exposed to urushiol, the more likely it is that you will break out with an allergic rash. For the first time sufferer, it generally takes longer for the rash to show up - generally in 7 to 10 days (my dad had a friend who thought this, he then was a moron about it and rubbed it all over his face, ended with some time in the hospital)

Some More Facts
Urushiol Oil is Potent
* Only 1 nanogram (billionth of a gram) needed to cause rash
* Average is 100 nanograms for most people
* 1/4 ounce of urushiol is all that is needed to cause a rash in every person on earth
* 500 people could itch from the amount covering the head of a pin
* Specimens of urushiol several centuries old have found to cause dermatitis in sensitive people.
* 1 to 5 years is normal for urushiol oil to stay active on any surface including dead plants (bed sheets, cammo, other clothing, gear, mattresses)
* Derived from urushi, Japanese name for lacquer
Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac
* Most common allergy in the country claiming half the population
* Sensitivity to urushiol can develop at any time
* Solutions or cures are those that annihilate urushiol
* Everyone appears to react slightly different to all the remedies.
* Covered by workers compensation in some states (CA, for example)
* First published records of poison ivy in North America date back to 1600s
* Poison Ivy coined by Captain John Smith in 1609
* Western Poison Oak discovered by David Douglas (1799-1834) on Vancouver Island. Douglas fir also named after him.
* People will serious deficiency in cellular (T-cell) immunity such as AIDS patients may not have problems with dermatitis.

Identifing Poison Ivy (Rhus radicans)
(info and photos taken from http://www.poison-ivy.org/index.htm)
Summer
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Classic poison ivy in full swing. Some leaves are notched.
Some leaves are not.
New leaves are shiny and still somewhat reddish. Older leaves are duller.
Spring
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Like many spring leaves, poison ivy leaves start out bright red, which seems to fend off insects.
Keep in mind that new leaves can always be reddish even when they sprout in mid summer.
I've rarely seen poison ivy attacked by any visible insect, although occasionally I've seen leaves affected by what looks like a fungus.
If there is an insect that liked to eat poison ivy it should be thriving, and also awarded the Nobel Prize.
Fall
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There is a story that somebody brought some poison ivy back to England because it has nice colors in the fall.
Poison ivy turns all sorts of colors in the fall: yellow, red, orange. And you can still get itchy from it in the fall.
Hard to think of a dumber thing to do. Although it was brought to the Netherlands to keep the soil on the dikes from eroding, which makes some sense.
Winter
Posted Image
This is the same bush as pictured in the Bush (bellow).
I used this to illustrate poison ivy in the winter since it's bit unusual.
I pictured somebody gathering wood for a Christmas craft project without thinking that this bush could be poison ivy.
The word is that you CAN get poison ivy from working with the vine in winter AND you can get it in your lungs if you burn it and breathe the smoke.
Vine Form
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Sometimes it's hard to tell poison ivy from the tree it's climbing on - it can branch out two or three feet.
When you cut down a tree for firewood you can get a good case of poison ivy from the vine stuck to the tree - even in winter.
And they say you can get VERY bad poison ivy from the smoke from burning wood with ivy vines on it. You get the problem in your lungs. You don't want that.
Nasty as it is, it's nothing compared to the strangler fig vine of the tropics, that climbs a tree and then kills it.
Along the Ground
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It creeps along on the ground - usually at the edge of the forest or edge of a field or roadside.
Note that it's happy to co-exist with pine trees.
It's almost impossible to get rid of it, since the roots are very well established under the ground. You can rip it out, but you almost never get it all, and it comes back with attitude.
Bush Form
(I almost dived in something like this I stopped myself and took the hits, I prefer a few welts to a few weeks not getting any sleep and being miserable)
Posted Image
Under the right conditions poison ivy will explode into a true shrub - usually on top of an old stump or a post, or on you if you stand still long enough.
This particular disaster is at the edge of a field, and the surrounding ground is thick with poison ivy for 35 feet in all directions.
You have to admire a plant that shows this kind of initiative and enthusiasm.
Where?
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You can almost count on poison ivy growing at the edge of every field within it's range.
And at the edge of every road, and the edge of every forest.
And wherever man has bulldozed a stable environment - like a new shopping mall or a housing subdivision.
In the open field the grass usually wins over time, and in the deep woods the ivy probably can't get enough light.
But at the edge of the field, forest, parking lot, or road - the poison ivy wins out.
Beach
(probably not encountered that much in paintball but...)
Posted Image
When poison ivy grows near the ocean it tends to have curly, waxy looking leaves.
A day at the beach could result in weeks of agony if you don't realize that poison ivy grows - often in huge lush stands - at the beach.
The one good thing about poison ivy at the beach is that it seems to do a good job of holding the beach together against erosion. And it keeps people away, which always makes the local wildlife much happier.


Identifing Poison Oak (Rhus toxicodendron)
(info from http://www.knoledge..../identify.html)
Spring
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In the Spring, the leaves are light, bright green with whitish green flowers clustered on the stems.
Summer
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In the Summer, Poison Oak has yellow-green, pink, or reddish colors on some of the leaves, with small white or tan berries after the flowers of Spring.
Fall
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The fruit becomes darker, the leaves turn bright red or russet brown.
Winter
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Now the insidiousness of this evil weed is laid bare. The leaves and seeds fall, leaving stick or whip-like stems or climbing vines.

Poison Sumac (Rhus vernix)
(info from http://www.duke.edu/...rees/tove.html)
I looked and looked and couldn't find any seasonal images of sumac (it seems its the less known of the plants)
Posted Image
Poison Sumac is a small tree or large shrub with large attractive leaves and white fruits that could be used as an ornamental if it didn't cause severe skin irritation in most people. Its smaller relatives with 3-parted leaves, Poison Ivy and Poison Oak, have similar irritating properties. In North Carolina Poison Sumac is fairly common in swamp edges and wet woods in the Coastal Plain. Formerly called Rhus vernix. Poison Sumac is absent, or nearly so, from the Piedmont region of NC and is rare in the Mountains.
Posted Image
Key features to identify it include large alternate leaves usually with 9-13 entire (not toothed) leaflets and a red rachis (the stem connecting the leaflets). The leaflets are smooth and may be shiny above.
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The red rachis is reasonably easy to spot from a distance, once you know to look for it.
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Bark of a young tree. All parts of the plant are supposed to be poisonous to touch, including the bark.
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Small greenish flowers are followed by white fruits, which are technically called drupes. These green drupes are not ripe yet.

Rash
Iím not gunna post the pictures but I found a very nice sight with some gruesome pictures if you want to know what the many forms of the rash look like
(this is very, well, icky for lack of a better term it will take you to a warning page if you still would like to continue go ahead)
http://www.poison-iv.../rash/index.htm

Treatment and Prevention
Obviously the best way to prevent is to not go out in the woods (yeah right)
The next best way is to know what it looks like and to avoid it (not too practical if you have to find cover fast but still helps)
If you are playing in an area which is very poison ivy heavy, wash hands before going to the bathroom and i mean scrub them you donít want any oils in certain areas, trust me I know too many people who have had to put up with this and it was not pretty.
I would suggest buying a bottle of Tecnu it has helped me prevent the rash many times (you should be able to find it at your local drug store, Iíve found it in many different grocery stores on the east cost, if you cant get it locally you can buy it online) Tecnu is a "skin cleanser" it removes the oils from your skin best when used within a few hours of exposure (follow directions to the word.)
Also if you believe that you were exposed CLEAN EVERYTHING all of you gear clothes best if boiled (not joking) for the stuff you can't boil or put in insanely hot water rub down with rubbing alcohol (seems to work for me)
As far as treatment goes there are a variety of different thing you can use, many people like calamine lotion works very well, along with oatmeal baths and pretty much anything you can get OTC (over the counter.) If you get the rash really bad I would suggest going to the doctor, they can give you a shot to speed up the healing or my doctor gave me steroids (some people play sports and cannot go this option my friend had this problem.) The best healer is time I wrap my arms and exposed skin in gauze and ace bandages, usually gets me to the front of the lunch line when they see the bandages :).
other product can be found at http://poisonivy.aes...w/products.html although most pharmacies have a small section of shelf for poison ivy remedies and similar anti itch products.

Personal Experiance
I have found, as I said above Tecnu works extremely very well in preventing the rash although this is a new product and may not be everywhere yet, you can probably buy it online. When I have had my severe cases I have found that heat irritates the rash and makes me very uncomfortable, so I got a bunch of ice packs and rotated them half were on me while the other half were in the freezer, this helped me sleep too. I have one friend who suggested rubbing alcohol which dries up the rash and heals it faster (although I think i remember reading somewhere its not a good idea) Calamine Lotion has the same effect.
Another thing I noticed is almost everybody I asked about remedies everybody has their own thing, everybody suggested something different, and after trying stuff that works on other people I found most didnít work on me, the best thing to do is try a variety of different things, find out what works and stick with that.

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#2 User is offline   Coaxe 

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 12:38 PM

Wow, extensive. I never really knew exactly what poison ivy looked like. Thanks for the info! LOL poison ivy bush ghillie suit!!

This post has been edited by Coaxe: 10 April 2007 - 12:39 PM


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#3 User is offline   Prodigy 

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 12:42 PM

Good post. I think Tyger posted something like this last year but a refresher is always nice.

I've been lucky and have been exposed to poison but not broken out.
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#4 User is offline   Evil Fingers 

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 12:51 PM

Good Post chibbs, but wouldnt all that fall under wit Outlaw Players using Private Land, because most Regulated Paintball Feilds would remove those types of plants jus to avoid any discomfort to their customers (Players).
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#5 User is offline   light-u-up 

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 12:55 PM

great post. I always hate thinking about getting poison ivy and oak when Im cutting wood or playing paintball.
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#6 User is offline   Chibbs 

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 12:59 PM

View PostEvil Fingers, on Apr 10 2007, 03:51 PM, said:

Good Post chibbs, but wouldnt all that fall under wit Outlaw Players using Private Land, because most Regulated Paintball Feilds would remove those types of plants jus to avoid any discomfort to their customers (Players).


you would think that, but probably about half the times ive gotten poison ivy and most the times ive gotten it playing paintball including the absolute worse times have been on a regulated field, given it was a small local field, its always good to keep an eye open, you never know how much work has gone into making the field good for the players or if some just poped up since the field cleared it

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#7 User is offline   Ravenlord 

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 01:10 PM

thanks for the info. never seen or been arround poison ivy before.
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Posted 10 April 2007 - 01:27 PM

I would like to add some more facts.
Poison Ivy and Oak grow all across North America, while Poison Sumac only grows in the SE US. Sumac is said to be the worse of the three, while Oak and Ivy are about the same.

Where I live, Central Minnesota, poison Ivy/Oak is hard to find, and I don't mean that there isn't any. There is plenty of it, but you never see it because it grows in marshes, hidden underneath the grass. It is a pain in the DUMPER because you have no way of avoiding it. Just always wear shoes, socks and pants when in the woods. Since I stopped wearing shorts a few years ago, I havent gotten poison Ivy/Oak since (cross my fingers because since I said that, now Im sure to get some). Before that I got it once or twice a year, mostly on my legs and feet. Not too bad, one weird thing is it never really itched for me, just painful and stingy.

Technu works wonders. It makes it go away so much faster since the oils can stay on your skin for days or even weeks after the rash develops, not to mention the time it takes the rash to appear. But remove the oil and your skin can start healing faster. Walgreens carries Technu, Technu Scrub and some Poison Ivy Soap like Technu. Original Technu is the cheapest and the soap is $15 for three 'hotel' sized bars.

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 01:43 PM

I want to play the fields you play Evil Fingers. Around here, the field owners do nothing to curb the poison.
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#10 User is offline   TREE FITTY 

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 01:47 PM

I dove face first into this stuff. I had like a ring of poison around where my mask would of been.

did I die for a second there?...
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#11 User is offline   Forsaken 

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 01:59 PM

Wow, that is going to save me some pain. I've always stayed away from suspiciuos looking plants but never really knew to much about it, thanks man.
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#12 User is offline   eDDe 

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 01:59 PM

I love that its rare in England
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Posted 10 April 2007 - 02:05 PM

Sticky. Now.
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Posted 10 April 2007 - 06:21 PM

Good work on the heads up.
U should do one on the bugs u gotta deal with out here. Where I live we get alot of deer ticks an mosquitoes.
This is usually the Northeast but i dont know bout the rest of the country
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#15 User is offline   Chibbs 

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 06:54 PM

View PostDDC Commander, on Apr 10 2007, 09:21 PM, said:

Good work on the heads up.
U should do one on the bugs u gotta deal with out here. Where I live we get alot of deer ticks an mosquitoes.
This is usually the Northeast but i dont know bout the rest of the country


acutally i was given a presentation on bugs in the northeast by someone who just got his doctorite in bugology (i dont remember what it is but the study of bugs) there is a lot of info out there and if i can get his presentation ill post it up

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