What you should know about treating poison ivy

WASHINGTON — Poison ivy is beginning to show up in the D.C. area, and you’ll want to get rid of it to avoid nasty rashes.

Some people attack poison ivy with herbicides, but WTOP Garden Editor Mike McGrath says that’s likely not the best idea.

“That is one of the huge misunderstandings about poison ivy,” McGrath said. “You can spray it with Roundup until it’s brown and dead and has little x’s over its eyes,” but that doesn’t neutralize the oils that cause allergic reactions.

“You might not recognize it anymore and you might pull it up with your bare hands,” McGrath adds.

Instead, he suggests wrapping supermarket plastic bags around your arms before handling the plant.

“Everything you’ve heard about miracle cures for poison ivy residue is totally bogus,” McGrath said. “The only thing that dissolves the oil is cool water,” according to dermatologists whom McGrath has spoken with personally.

Roundup’s FAQ page confirms such notions: “If you come in contact with poison ivy, wash immediately with plain, cool water (soap can move the oil around on the skin).”

There’s no need for a washrag and soap to clean poison ivy oil, McGrath said. To be extra careful, you could rinse a washrag with cool water and wipe down any surface you might have touched.

WTOP’s Kristi King contributed to this report.

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