Ack! Poison Ivy!

I’ve had more than a few children coming in with some wicked poison ivy rashes over the past few weeks. Seems like a good time to review the basics:


DO teach your children to recognize the leaves.

DO check your yard and play areas carefully for the vine and safely eradicate it.

DO stay on the trail when hiking.

DO wash thoroughly after a walk or hike where poison ivy may have been.


DON’T forget to wash off the shoes and the dog if you think your children were playing/walking near it.

DON’T burn poison ivy to get rid of it (the smoke can cause serious damage!)

DON’T let brush grow unchecked in your yard.

DON’T forget to do a ‘tick check’ as well after hiking/walking.


Poison ivy can get really nasty and last for a long time so prevention is really the key.  Yes, doctors can give steroids for bad cases but most kids really don’t need them for mild rashes and they do not come without side effects. The best advice is to give kids an oral antihistamine like Benadryl or Zyrtec to prevent itching and seek the care of your doctor if the rash is looking particularly bad, covering an extensive amount of skin or affecting the eyes/mouth.

I threw in the last ‘DON’T’ about checking for ticks because tick-borne diseases like Lyme aren’t going anywhere. It is important to get kids outside but it is equally important to keep them safe. Where there’s poison ivy, there may also be ticks. The good news is a tick check and a shower are effective prevention because ticks normally ‘walk around’ looking for a place to bite for more than 24 hours. Get to them first.

For more information, see our respective pages on poison ivy and dealing with insect bites. With a little forethought, your kids can enjoy a fantastic spring outside!