The old adage still rings true, says Peter Galier, MD, associate professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.. "Leaves of three -- let them be," he says. So when the summer months begin, plan ahead when you know you're going to be trekking through the woods.
How to avoid it. "Poison ivy is a tri-leafed plant, usually with a little yellow and purple, and it tends to be anywhere with shrubbery, hiding out with other vegetation," says Galier. "So stay out of shrub areas or wear high boots or high socks, stay on the path, and don't touch anything you don't recognize."
Warning signs. Poison ivy can creep up on you, even if you wear head-to-toe clothing. "It's the oil of the leaf that's the problem," says Galier. "If you take your clothes off and you touch your clothes, you're going to get it." The "it" he's referring to is the itching and swelling.
What to do. It's time to get out the topical anti-itching cream again, like calamine lotion. "If you can suffer through it and it doesn't get worse, you can ride it out," says Galier. If it gets worse, you'll need to see a doctor for topical steroids or oral steroids."