Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Poison Ivy, Virginia Creeper and a cure

Summer fun and poison ivy seem to go hand in hand. With hiking, camping and other outdoor activities becoming more and more popular more people are venturing into areas where this noxious plant grows. Seems in no time it can take over an area and grow to huge proportions.
As a child we learned a rhyme to help us keep clear of this plant.

"Leaves of three leave it be, leaves of five let it thrive"

Many of us know that poison ivy has three distinct leaves in a lovely shade of green, but did you know it can grow not only as a vine, but as a bush? Sometimes it will take on such huge proportions that it will look like a tree. In Missouri poison ivy grows state wide. Two other potential problem plants that grow in some parts of the state are poison oak and poison sumac. In Northwest Missouri where I live we do not have poison oak or sumac. Many people hack away at vines containing five leaves mistakenly believing this to be poison oak, it is not. Ivy and Oak both have 3 leaves. Sumac has 7 or more. These poisonous vines do not have 5 leaves. This harmless vine is Virginia Creeper. As you can see the Virginia Creeper and the Poison Ivy look very similar, if one didn't look closely one could assume it was poison oak or ivy. What causes the itchy rash? It is a substance called urushiol, this oil is very potent and a minuscule amount can cause a reaction in most people. In fact an amount as tiny as a pin head would be enough to cause a rash in 500 people. I've heard people say "I'm just not allergic to poison ivy" I say to you..."just wait". Your day is coming. I used to say the exact same thing, then I turned 35 and all that changed. I now get it on average 10 or more times per spring and summer season. While out mushroom hunting in April I accidentally brushed against a tree with poison ivy vining on it, and I ended up with one of the worse cases I've ever had, and now have two lovely large scars to show for it. While this plant is no ones favorite, all is not bad though. There is something quite pretty about the vine, especially in the fall when the leaves turn a pretty shade of red. The birds love it, the white berries are very tasty to them. Animals are able to rub against the plant with no ill effects and many species dine on the berries and suffer nothing more than a full stomach. Many people get a rash and have no idea how they got, claiming they had not been anywhere that the vine grows. Do you have pets that roam? If so, you can thank fluffy or fido. They pick the oils up off the plant as they pass through it and bring it home to share as they climb into your lap for nice little back scratch. The rash cannot be spread person to person except when the oils are still present. Therefore no need to worry if you accidentally touch someone with an obvious case of ivy rash, most likely the oils are long gone and all that remains are the blistery bumps and red rash. If you are burning wood and know that poison ivy was on the wood, STAY AWAY! The oils are released in the smoke and can be inhaled for one SERIOUS case of internal ivy rash.

Mother nature provided for us though, one plant is known to counteract the ill effects of poison ivy, and that plant is the Spotted Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)(pictured). This plant generally grows in the vicinity of poison ivy, so it is a nice handy little cure if you know what to look for. Jewelweed is a smooth annual; 3-5 ft. tall with oval, round- toothed leaves; lower ones opposite, upper ones alternate. A bit trumpet shaped, the flowers hang from the plant much as a jewel from a necklace. Jewelweed blooms from May through October in the Eastern portion of the United States. It is often found growing near poison ivy or nettles. Breaking this plant open and rubbing the sap from the plant on skin that has been exposed to ivy, oak, sumac or other skin irritants can reduce your risk of an outbreak. If you already have a rash this plant can go a long way in relieving the itching and redness. Don't let the threat of this vine keep you from getting outside and exploring. After all being outside and having adventures makes life fun and exciting. Just be aware of what is around you and act accordingly.

38 comments:

  1. Yes posion ivy has three leaves and virginia creeper has five. I stay clear of a anything that is three leaf. I live in Northwest Mo and the other day I pulled a vine off my house a small one with five leaves and no posion ivy was mixed up in it. My yard is very clean and the vine was small and it looked just like a virinia creeper and now I have a rash.

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    1. virginia Creeper in my opinion is worse then Poison Ivy, tis plant is terrible, I found one, the leaves were 3 times bigger then my hands, vine as big around as my fore finger. Sprayed it with Anhydrous ,and its drying up nicely, but I did not come out unscathed ! got some one me, found a new big helper in getting rid of rash and itch.. Fresh Cut Onion and rub it on the rash and surrounding area, you will notice a change fairly soon, but keep applaying every so often till rash is gone.... works on me/

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  2. I always wear gloves and a long sleeve shirt when handling wild brush plants or volunteer plants as we call them. Three leaves are easy enough to spot but it is better safe than sorry.

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  3. virginia creeper roots do in fact cause a very nasty rash. do not under any circumstances handle it without gloves. calling virginia creeper harmless in NOT accurate. currently I have a wicked rash that looks like acid burns about 9 inches log on my arm from virginia creeper root exposure. It itches like mad - pass this info along to everyone you like to save them from this. only tell your enemies it is harmless. actually, even that is mean. tell everyone - keep away from virginia creeper just like poison ivy.

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  4. I had never heard of Virginia creeper until today. Yesterday I was pulling vines off a tree and woke up with a horrible rash on my face and left arm. Now I am telling everyone I know about this plant and to beware the pain and itching it brings with it's 5 leaves.

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  5. I have looked all over the internet to find a remedy for a virginia creeper rash that I contracted in North Carolina. I was not able to find one. However, I was able to learn that the rash is a result of oxalyic acid crystals. I am happy to report that the way that you clear oxalic acid is with tart cherry juice (about 5.00, available at most grocery stores in the organic section. Also available at GNC, but theirs was 24.00! ouch)
    While searching for a remedy the rash continued to spread. However, I had almost IMMEDIATE relief and the blisters began to dry up when I drank the cherry juice. I was itchy again the next morning and figured out that I must drink some every 8 hours to stay ahead of the itching and keep the rash at bay. Try it, it can't hurt. It really, really helped me.

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    1. I know this post is old,but it worked. I actually got some sleep last night. I also found that an acne med with benzoyl peroxide helped to shrink the blisters. Calamine lotion like others have said made it worse.

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    2. I know this post is oldbit I tried this and it works. I actually got some sleep last night. I also found that acne medicine with benzoyl peroxide helped to shrink and dry out the blisters. As others have said,calamine lotion makes it worse.

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    3. I will have to try the cherry juice, as I am at my wit's end. I have my 6th Virginia creeper rash of this season (those who say Virginia Creeper is harmless does not know what they are talking about). My entire forearm, as well as areas on both knees, were part of the initial rash - which I got, by the way, from a BUCKET. I know enough to stay away from the plant, but the weeding bucket must have some of the oils. My problem now is that I have secondary rashes on my other forearm and torso, but I am not sure where they are coming from.

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  6. Virginia Creeper is not harmless to all. Many will have no reaction, but I am severely allergic and just got my my second steroid shot in three weeks to make it manageable. Rash over my entire body! But at least I know know what is causing my outbreaks and I can get it all off my property.

    I'll try the cherry juice next time as I hate putting steroids in my body!! (But since my eyes were almost too swollen to see out of it was a necessity.)

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  7. We have Virginia creeper all over our yard. Mainly wrapped around our very tall Hemlock trees. It has very thick hairy ropey vines wrapped around the trees, clear to the top! I used gloves while my husband and I have been trying to remove this tangled mess. I mistakingly thought it was poison ivy for a long time since I break out in a rash just as I always did as a child. Eyes swollen shut , shots , trips to the emergency room ...the whole works! I decided to Google it since I keep reading that poison ivy just has 3 leaves and this plant has 5 leaves and quite pretty actually . And most of what I found out is quite misleading about it not being poisonous. My grandson also breaks out really bad when he comes over .....he came in contact with it while retrieving a baseball from a patch of it.

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  8. I have read that Virginia Creeper is non-toxic. I'll steer clear of that plant now! Since childhood, I've been a tree hugger, nature and garden lover, in Maryland, Delaware, and now in SW North Carolina. My first poison ivy rash was summer of 2013. I was 58. Last week, I got another awful rash on my face without ever touching the plant. Our landscaper cleared high, dense weeds from an area in my yard. My mistake (unknowingly) was to move his wheelbarrow and use his rake later that evening. Or from hugging my dogs. It's a mystery. Thanks for this blogpost!

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  9. Yes, I agree with these people in the comments please change your statement about the Virginia creeper being harmless. I currently have a bad rash from the edge of the leaves grazing my arm while pulling it up. Yes, just the edge has caused a bad rash I'd hate to see what getting the entire leaf on me looks like. Harmless? I think not.

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  10. I am going to try the tart cherry juice, I really hope it works and if it work you are a God sir!!!

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  11. I pulled "weeds" out of the Iris flower bed and got poison ivy. I got a steroid shot & Prednisone Tablets. I found that Calamine Lotion did not do much in the way or relief, but taking antihistamines and rubbing alcohol was a life saver!

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    1. Rubbing alcohol just made my skin really irritated, as well as apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar works well at taking out the itch, but I think my skin might be sensitive to it. I am trying to steer clear of the steroids, so I have resorted to cool water and nothing touching the affected skin. Good luck to you!

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  12. My son got into some and we couldn't figure out what he had for a week and it got worse and worse. We finally figured out to let him go swimming. The chlorine will dry it up also Benadryl helps his itching. Keep as cool as possible and the rash will stay under control and won't spread.

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  13. I was weedtriming yesterday and think I got a tiny bit of virginia creeper in my eye -- red, pussy, swollen, itchy -- what can I do???

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    1. Rinse it well with cool water and keep watching it. If the redness or swelling don't seem any better or get worse go see your eye doctor.

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    2. I would not mess around, as far as your eye is concerned. If you are prone to Virginia Creeper rashes, I would seek a doctor's assistance immediately.

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    3. Gracie is there any way you can take a picture of the vine you get your rash from as well as the area around it? I've not heard of anyone having severe reactions to Virginia Creeper, but there are many other things that can cause bad rashes.

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  14. I just came across this last night search for some relief from the horrible rash on my arms and neck. I thought it was poison ivy or poison oak, but i was wrong. after getting this for the second time I started searching for the culprit and what do you know? Virgina creeper growing all along my fence. This harmless vine is much worse than the poison ivys and things. By the way I live in Myrtle Beach and grew up in southeastern NC where poison ivy, oak and sumac are rampant and never remember being affected like this from any of them. I appreciate all of ya'lls suggestions and knowledge on this and will cover from head to toe as I remove the rest, also if it gets on your clothes go to the extremes to clean them it will spread even after you wash them

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  15. I yanked virginia creeper from trees and plenty of vines from the ground. Within the day, the rash developed all over my arms. OMG, over the week, they got so much worse. I used baking soda and apple cider vinegar to help dry the blisters. When my hands and arms swelled, I caved and got pregnasone (oral pills/tapering how many you take). Within hours of the first dose, the itching was way down and 24 hours later, the oozing went away. Even a week after first having it on my arms, it showed up all over my body - even on skin that was covered by clothing when I pulled the plant so somehow it spread. I only washed my arms after gardening, but didn't scrub. I know better now. It's been four weeks and I'm still itching and red. It feels like I'm wearing a wool sweater and the steroid did something to me. I'm not quite right - a bit out of sorts - worse than when taking a cold antihistamine. I'll try the cherry juice. It'll be fabulous if it helps to relieve the itching. I've never known of this plant and will certainly steer clear. Anyone know answers? After spraying with Round-up, and plant looks dead, does the sap dry up and coast is clear to pull or is it like poison ivy where the oil can be present for even a year if it got on anything? Also,when does the redness and itching go away? And, is the sap in the roots or only the leaves? thx

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  16. I am a gardner professionally and have had to deal with the Virgina creeper rash for the past few summers. Maddening is the word for the torture of the constant itch. Cannot sleep. Been using antispetic spray with lydocaine and I use every itch medicine on the market for relief. I keep ice packs on my arms as I sit and watch TV to try to get some relief. Cold really helps. Finally today it is slowing down. I will look for the cherry juice mentioned above. Thanks for the tip. Fran Stein Lacombe, LA

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  17. Pour gas on it! It will sure kill it dead!

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  18. What are you suppose to do? I have had this Virginia Creeper on my legs for 4 weeks today. It is about to drive me crazy. I know I have spent 400.00$ on stuff to try to get rid of this. I am at my wits end. Went to the doctor and got a steroid shot and prednisone pills. I've took Benadryl and nothing helps. People that say this junk is harmless is pure ignorant!!! I read someone said on here if you had poison ivy on you to rub Virginia Creeper on it, it would help. You do that you're hospital bound!! Ignorant people tell someone such junk as that!! I never heard such stupidity in my life!! You better leave both alone!! I have used oatmeal baths, all poison vine medicines over the counter I could find and none works!!! This is pure evil! I have scratched till my legs has sores on them. You want to dig like a dog with the mange!! I've even put sulphur on my legs. It did stop the itch for awhile. That's what you put on a dog with the mange. You mix motor oil and sulphur and put it on a dog and it cures the mange. I just used the sulphur with coconut oil so it would stick to my skin. it just keeps spreading. You can't stop this evil on you. It was in my flowers and I pulled it out one day with my bare hands and now its going everywhere on me!! It was always told to me it was called sour vine, I thought it was harmless. I didn't know it was as evil as the Devil himself!!! God help us all!! I've bout give up on hope!! GOD BLESS US ALL WITH THIS EVIL PLANT!! DON'T LET KNOW ONE TELL YOU THIS PLANT IS HARMLESS!!! IT IS THE DEVIL HIMSELF!!! I got rid of two plants trying to grow up the backside of my house, I poured gasoline on that devil and he dried up to the bone, brown and crumbly!! Prettiest sight I ever seen in a plant!! It will never grow around my yard ever again!! Its like a demon out of Hell!! WV.

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    1. For years, I had trouble with terrible rash from poison ivy. I always kept a bottle of poison ivy pills (Homepathic) around. I moved and none of the drug stores around here have anything like that, but luckily I got on amazon and found some. This Virginia creeper is as bad or worse than any poison ivy. Thankfully I started searching and found out what's in my backyard giving me this rash. Already started spraying, but will also always keep poison ivy pills in my house, steroids are not the way I want to go.

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  19. I am sorry so many of you are having a bad reaction to Virginia creeper. I've never heard of anyone having a reaction to this vine. Would anyone be willing to send me pictures of the vine they are getting rashes from? I am wondering if it is something else entirely or if there is another plant mixed in with it. I know there is a really noxious plant that can cause the types of reactions being described here.

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  20. Shelley Cox..it is definitely Virginia Creeper! I have the rash to prove it also, my neighbor's husband just had a bout with it too! Read up on the internet, it says in a small percentage of people it causes a terrible rash... I have handled it before with no problems, not this time! I have pretty bad allergies and this year has been terrible for them, I think that may play a huge part in it as to why it effected me this year. I have used everything, over the counter stuff, steroid cream from dr. then steroids from dr. Nothing has stopped it from itching or spreading! Like the other person said, it is pure EVIL!

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  21. That's the plant that is plentiful in our yard. I had the same horrible reaction to Virginia Creeper that people are describing. It's worse than poison ivy. This should be shown alongside visual warnings about poison ivy, poison sumac, and poison oak. And it's so painful. My skin blistered and bubbled up so badly it looked like I had been seriously burned. In the end, my arm had to be wrapped in gauze and a couple rounds of steroids finally stopped the spread of the awful stuff. To call it a "rash" is not even close to what I had. I now cover up completely, even in the heat and I use ivy block on arms, and I found some garden work gloves that go all the way up to my elbows. I also scrub off any exposed areas and my arms and hands (even though they were in gloves) with water and Dawn soap as soon as I get inside. I do not waste a minute. And I wash my clothes in hot water --- alone. Not with other clothes. And I take care when taking off my gloves and clothes, too. I hate using weed killer like roundup. I know gas is bad environmentally, but I may try that.

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  22. I am wondering if those of you having such a horrible reaction aren't actually having a reaction to another plant like wild parsnip. Parsnip can cause rashes, itching, burns and blisters. Maybe where you are working in the yard the parsnip is mixed in the the Virginia creeper. Worth checking anyway.

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  23. Shelly Cox, are you crazy? No it's not wild parsnip! I looked straight at the doggid junk before (I) even pulled the crap! I know what I had my hands on and pulled out of the ground!! I know the junk is evil from personal experience! You want to baby it, you can, I'm not! It will never grow in or around my yard ever again!! All it will ever get is a good gas soakin' and it looks even better than it ever did afterwards! I got two that never looked better, dead to the ground!! I had sores on me where I scratched so bad, My skin was so red and rashy looking. I scratched like a dog with the mange, I ended up with water blisters on my legs with that junk. Couldn't stand them on me, took a sewing needle and picked it just enough the liquid would come out and had a cotton ball with alcohol ready to slap on them when the water came out and it helped them and they dried up. Never filled up again. Poison Ivy ain't got nothing on this junk, that's for sure! Yesterday was Saturday, It made me six weeks exactly fighting this junk and today Sunday with just a few pimples on my legs where I scratched so much and it made sores, their healing finally, the redness is gone. Maybe in another week maybe I'll be clear of this junk. Lord willing! I read somewhere on the internet a doctor told a girl it would take six weeks to get it healed and I watched what he said to that girl and he hit it right on the nail head. Yesterday made me exactly six weeks and it's about gone, Thank God! He was right! I still itch a little every now and then. Hopefully in another week it will be gone. I used every thing to try to get relief, steroid shot at the beginning and prednisone pills. I took Benadryl, I couldn't get the itch to stop to sleep, I had some Icy Hot with Lidocaine in it, worked wonders for me, It stopped the itch long enough to get some sleep, Ivarest for poison ivy helped some, I used coconut oil and put sulphur powder on my legs and it helped the itching, where I could rest also. I think the sulphur helped a lot in my healing. It helps a poor suffering dog, it had to help. I used Blue Star ointment on the junk with sulphur, I was desperate for something to help. It together got kinda burning hot, had to take it off. The blue star got hot on my skin. Hydrocortisone Cream helped pretty good with the itching and Calamine Lotion too. Times when the itching got so bad I felt like nothing was helping I put Biofreeze on my legs, that stopped it in its tracks. You can't get no sleep with all the itching. I've never seen nothing like it in my life! It went from my hands to my legs and a spot on my chest, I hope it's about all over with now. I know what it is to suffer with this junk and it's not fun! I never want to see no more of this junk!! I don't know what I would have done without the comfort of my family and their tenderness! I know I would have lost my mind! God Bless! WV.

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  24. Oh my gosh!!! This Virginia Creeper is so much worse than poison ivy. I've had it for 4 weeks now and it does keep spreading. Started out on my hands and now has moved to arms, legs, chest, back and one buttock... The itching is worse than any other rash I've contracted. I thought I was fine pulling out a vine with five leaves.... I have never been more wrong. I've had two rounds of steroids, antihistamines, every homemade remedy I can find. I am going now to store to get tart cherry juice and some biofreeze. I pray that this works.

    Misty C. Lex, KY

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    1. The bio-freeze will help with the itching, it did mine when nothing else seemed to help, but you can't put it on your buttocks though it will set you on fire. I put it on my legs it helped. This stuff is torture! This Saturday the 15th I will have this junk for 9 weeks and still doctoring it. It will just about make you lose your mind! I pulled it out of my flower bed with my bare hands and it went from there to my legs and then spread to my chest and to my belly. I hope it don't go no further. You want to dig yourself like crazy, Its awful. I hate this junk!! I've got shots and cream and still doctoring it with stuff. Bought everything that Wal-Mart had on the shelf. Seems like not much of the stuff is worth a dime. I've spent a fortune on this junk! Sulfur powder seemed to help on my legs with the itching, I used coconut oil to help it stick to my legs. I didn't know what this cherry juice is everyone is talking about so I ain't tried that. Another thing that I found that helped me with the itching was Apple Cider Vinegar (with the Mother). I put 5 or 6 cups of water (8 oz. cups) in a bowl and add about 1/2 cup of that vinegar and mix it up with your hand. Use a washcloth and wring it out and I washed my legs with it and it helped the itching so good, made my legs feel so much better and stopped the itching for a good while, but it would come back later, just wash it again. I tried it with the regular cheap vinegar that everyone pickles with and it didn't work at all for me. (I ran out of the good kind). Something with the Mother in the Vinegar I think that makes it work. I still itched with the cheap vinegar, it didn't seem to help me. I even made a drink with the Vinegar (with the mother) in a glass of water, put a couple tables. to a big glass of water and a little lemon juice and sugar to sweeten it and with ice and drank it. I thought if it helped so good on the outside maybe it would kill it from the inside. Not to bad of a drink with sugar. You got to do something or go crazy! I hope you go to feeling better! It's a rough ride!! God Bless You! WV.

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  25. I would also like to add to long list of Virginia Creeper sufferers. Worst rash I've ever had. I had always mistaken VC for Poison Ivy or Oak because of the severe rash after contact, but realized that it had five leaves instead of three. I was very confused to find experts calling this plant harmless.

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  26. I have gotten poison ivy almost every year but this rash from the Virginia creeper is something I have never encountered before . I was warned by my mother that she got a terrible rash from this plant but I didn't believe her and grabbed it and pulled on it without gloves. I didn't think nothing of it, nobody ever mentioned it could produce a rash unlike anything I ever had before.
    It started off as bug bites that burned really bad, as if fire ants bit me. Small welts that progressively increased in number at both knees and many other areas. I didn't know I liked myself so much! Then the oozing started, at this point I thought it was poison ivy but I was wrong. The itch was more intense and the spots where everywhere. Poison ivy normally stays concentrated in one area or two on the body but this it kept spreading over days. I had dots everywhere randomly in clusters. It looks like a burn that oozes , darker red than poison ivy on the skin. I had to get prednisone for the first time in my life, I couldn't deal with it as I have done with poison ivy. It is much worse and the pattern of symptoms severe.
    Stay away from that innocent vine , it is the worst deception out there and nobody knows it's true potentional of torture.i hope to god I don't get a secondary rash weeks later like someone mentioned, it will take weeks to get this out of my system . I learned my lesson , listen to your mother!

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