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Filed under: Fun Facts,Health,Medicine,Natural Wonders — Tags: , , , , — Positronic Dave @ 1:57 pm June 4, 2010

Urushiol… gesundheit! Ahahahahahaha!!!!! Sorry.

It’s summer time soon, so it’s a good time for a refresher course. Urushiol is the active chemical in what plant family?

Answer: The Anacardiaceae family, also known more commonly as Poison Ivy, and related species, Poison Oak, and Poison Sumac. Urushiol, for the record, is the oil that causes the horrible rash associated with these weeds.

You can spot Poison Ivy by its three shiny leaves and red berries. Poison Sumac has paired leaflets with tiny black spots on the leaves (hint: don’t pick up a leaf to look at it more closely). the black spots are the oil seeping out of the leaf, it turns black under sunlight. Which only makes Poison Ivy more creepy than before.

(In unrelated news there is no indication that Armando Galagarra wishes a urushiol enema on Bud Selig. it’s a tragedy, the unfair loss of the Galagarra perfect game, but he’s over it, everyone else should be as well. Nor is new Japanese Prime Minister, Naoto Kan a weed. And when Jeffrey Osborne sings at game 1 of the NBA finals, he will not be singing “Poison Ivy.” Now back to our story…)

Sadly, you often don’t know you’ve come in contact with poison Ivy until hours later, when the itchy rash appears. Calamine lotion or a Benadryl creme with vastly reduce the symptoms. Outdoors and sporting shops also sell a soap to can wash with, if you suspect you’ve touched Poison Ivy. Used soon after contact, it will neutralize the urushiol oils.

Other than that, just wearing long pants and shoes with socks in the woods can protect from exposure. Use your common sense.

Most of all, if you are burning leaves and brush, make very sure there is no Poison Ivy in there. When it is burned the urushiol becomes airborne and breathable and poses a significant hazard if inhaled. If this happens, take the person to a hospital immediately.

Urushiol poisoning