When you are in the woods on your next adventure and you come across poison ivy, remember it's an opportunity to stop and take stock of your awareness. You can ask yourself, "Where was my attention when I came into this leafy patch of poison ivy?" And like the poison ivy, "What are my protective mechanisms and when am I pulling them out the most?" If you've just walked into poison ivy, you can see it as either an unfortunate run-in or an opportunity to be humbled and learn to increase your awareness. Then the true gift comes in connecting with your place.
Poison oak's resin, called urushiol, can remain active for a very long time. When an allergic reaction occurs after contacting poison oak, the first thing to do is to wash the skin thoroughly with warm soap and water and launder any clothes that may be contaminated with poison oak. This should include towels used to clean the skin. Some soothing remedies such as showering with cool water, applying over-the-counter anti-itching cream, oatmeal baths, or baking-soda mixture may help lessen the discomfort in mild cases. If the allergic reaction is severe, one should contact a physician or go to the emergency room, and some prescription medications including topical and oral steroids may be needed to reduce the swelling and itch.
Tanya was a staff writer for Live Science from 2013 to 2015, covering a wide array of topics, ranging from neuroscience to robotics to strange/cute animals. She received a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a bachelor of science in biomedical engineering from Brown University. She has previously written for Science News, Wired, The Santa Cruz Sentinel, the radio show Big Picture Science and other places. Tanya has lived on a tropical island, witnessed volcanic eruptions and flown in zero gravity (without losing her lunch!). To find out what her latest project is, you can visit her website .