Busting Poison Ivy myths

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SHERMAN, TX - Many Texomans are familiar with the ever unpleasant Poison Ivy rash. But, there are a lot of people don't even know what the plant looks like. And that could make the difference between misery and comfort.

"You can find poison ivy just about anywhere," said Grayson County College biology instructor Ramona Popplewell.

In fact, all I had to do is walk twenty yards from the backdoor of our studio and there it was. Poison Ivy, the unassuming menace.

"Poison ivy is a vine that is in the almond family." said Popplewell

But you can't get almonds from this vine, just a nasty, itchy rash.

"A lot of time it looks it looks like more like a water blister or blistering rash," said dermatology nurse practitioner Tami Dobs. "A lot of the times people believe they spread it by itching themselves on the arm where it starts."

But that couldn't be further from the truth. The rash doesn't spread at all. It only develops on skin that comes into direct contact with the vine's poisonous oil.

"It develops differently at different times on different parts of the body." Dobs said. "So, that's why you think you spread it."

And that's not the only Poison Ivy myth. The rash is not contagious, but you can give it to someone if you have the oil on your hands and touch their skin. And no one is immune, only less allergic. Even if you kill the vine, it's still poisonous. The oil's so potent, it can last up to seven years on any surface if not removed or washed away. And you should never burn Poison Ivy. But the most common myth is that it looks like it's five leaved cousin Virginia Creeper. But Virginia Creeper is not poisonous.

"Probably the easiest way to keep from getting the itchy rash like I did last week while doing yard work is simple. Do your homework. Learn what the plant looks like, and avoid contact."

"If you've never seen it get on the internet and google it and there will be thousands of websites that will give you pictures to look at," said Popplewell.

For more information on prevention and treatment of Poison Ivy you can log on to the Poison Ivy, Oak, & Sumac Information Center website Http://poisonivy.aesir.com/view/comments.html

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