Your Family's Backyard Survival Manual

Jan Sheehan

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Poison ivy
Grant Heilman Photography

Your teen chases a Frisbee into a patch of poison ivy

Feel better fast Hurry inside and have him wash the skin that was exposed immediately with dish detergent (yep, grab the squeeze bottle), which will strip the skin of urushiol. That's the nasty chemical in the plant's oily sap that causes an itchy rash and blisters. If he gets a rash, calamine will ease the itchiness and also dry any blisters, says Sandra Read, M.D., a spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology.

Prevent it Inspect your yard for poison ivy, oak and sumac (you can find reference photos online). The only way to get rid of these plants is to remove the roots. If you have lots of them, have a landscaper do it. "And never burn poison ivy since the smoke can trigger a severe reaction," says Dr. Read.

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