Poison Ivy

Ah, summer days are rapidly approaching. When you go outside, you can hear the buzzing of lawnmowers, crickets chirping, and the smell of charcoal grills fills your nostrils as you turn your chin up to the sun. With the approach of summer comes the darkening of the leaves on the trees, and people are dusting off their camping gear for a few weekends of roughing it in the great outdoors over the next several months.

With the arrival of camping season, many people will not only enjoy the smell of a nice campfire and roasting marshmallows, but calamine lotion as well. Unfortunately, summer brings biting insects such as mosquitoes, horseflies, and deer flies, as well as some foliage that many of us could do without–poison ivy.

When you decide to take your adventures outdoors for the summer, be sure to know what you are looking for as far as poison ivy. It can take on many forms: creeping up the side of a tree, it can look like a bush, it can produce flowers and berries, and it can turn the beautiful colors of autumn. This plant, though it may be pretty to look at, can cause a horrible allergic reaction ranging from mild to severe. So before you squat in the woods to do your business, make sure you know what type of plant will be benefiting from your watering–if it tickles your rear end and it is poison ivy, you may be in for several weeks to several months of uncomfortably oozing and itching blisters. They will not only cover your rear end, but creep up into your special parts as well.


Poison ivy has three almond-shaped leaves and can range in color from light green in the springtime to deep red hues in the fall, as well as anywhere else in between. The sap which is produced by poison ivy is the actual irritant. It is a clear, oily substance which can cause a rash via direct or even indirect contact. So that means if you drop your drawers to pee in the woods and your undies touch the plant but your booty doesn’t, you can still get a nasty poison ivy rash on your behind.

Poison Symptoms

Poison ivy can still cause a rash even if it is winter and the leaves have died. The sap continues to remain on stems of poison ivy bushes, trailing plants and climbing plants. The rash it causes can cause such a bad allergic reaction that you may need to take oral steroids, or worse, be hospitalized if it causes anaphylactic shock.

The moral of the story is to always identify where you pee in the woods. Also, learn what poison ivy looks like so you don’t end up squatting over some, thereby ruining the smell of calamine lotion for you forever.

This article is part of the Poisonous Plants series.