Prevention

To add to the challenge of preventing exposure, the old adage, "Leaves of three, let it be. Berries white, poisonous sight" does not always hold true, as the virulent weeds can grow with leaves in groups of five, seven, or even nine, however, this does serve as a useful general guide. The most important first step in educating about avoiding poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac is determining how each plant grows in a particular area (vine or shrub, specifics of the leaves etc.). The plant's appearance during each season must also be determined, as dermatitis can be caused during all seasons, despite being considered a summer problem. Poison ivy can be found in varying sizes during the seasons, and can be any shade of green, red, yellow, or brown. Burning poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac can also cause allergic contact dermatitis. While few cases have been reported, urushiol can be present in the air near burning plants and can be significant enough to cause an itchy rash (40,45).

Protective clothing is the most effective prevention if workers are unable to avoid the plant altogether. It is important to take care when removing clothing and cleaning equipment, as the urushiol can remain on the surface.

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