Not long ago, the undersides of my forearms itched. I paid little notice. By next morning, the areas had morphed into a rash. I shrugged it off. Day three, though, when my increasingly itchy dots erupted into bumpy red patches and some began to ooze, the proverbial light bulb went off — duh, I had poison ivy!
Like 85 percent of the population, I’m allergic to the noxious plants. Even if I were among the lucky few who say they’re not, that could change. According to dermatology studies, immunity can weaken with repeated exposures. Either way, here’s my simple advice: Learn to recognize the three poison ivy species and stay away from them!
All parts (except the flowers, pollen and fruit pulp) of poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac contain urushiol, an oily substance that triggers dermatitis, but only in humans. Birds and animals that eat the berries and hang out in the wretched stuff aren’t bothered by it.