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Poison Ivy and Its Unpleasant Cousins

Tips to deal with irritating plants

Poison ivy. Poison oak. Poison sumac. No one wants to endure the painful itching and unsightly rash these plants can trigger.

But sometimes they can't be avoided. You can come into contact with urushiol, the oil that causes the rash, on the fur of your pet or just by touching clothing that touched the plants.

The Eastern Cereal & Oilseed Research Centre, a branch of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, says you should wash the affected area of skin with running cold water as soon as possible. Within the first 30 minutes of contact, soap and water can help. After that, drugstore ointments can ease the symptoms. In more troublesome cases, see a doctor.

And be sure to wash your clothes immediately with detergent to remove the oil.

If you have to scratch, the agency says not to worry: The notion that scratch spreads the rash is just a myth.

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