Tick & Poison Ivy Prevention

November 6, 2023
Picture of a tick warning sign in front of a wooded area.

Outdoor activities offer a wealth of benefits—indeed, according to the American Psychological Association, spending time in nature can improve cognition, mood, mental health, and emotional well-being. Unfortunately, venturing outdoors can also increase your risk of certain injuries, such as tick bites and poison ivy rashes. Below, we offer tips on how to avoid ticks and poison ivy so that you can enjoy nature to its fullest extent.

Tips for Preventing Tick Bites

Tick bites can transmit Lyme disease and various other illnesses, so it’s important to take the steps needed to avoid them. Before venturing into a wooded area, you should:

  • Treat your clothing and any equipment you’ll be using with permethrin (an insecticide)
  • Wear long sleeves, pants, and tall socks
  • Tuck your shirt into your pants, and tuck your pants into your socks (you may also want to tape the area where your pants meet your socks for added protection)
  • Wear light-colored clothing (since any ticks will be easier to spot)
  • Apply an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellent containing DEET, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), picaridin, or 2-undecanone (however, you shouldn’t use products containing OLE or PMD on children under the age of 3)

While outside, try to walk along the center of trails and avoid trekking through high grasses, brush, and leaf litter whenever possible. It’s also important to carefully check for ticks once you come inside. Upon returning, you should:

  • Inspect your body, your clothing, and any equipment you had with you
  • Check any children and pets that were accompanying you
  • Shower within two hours after returning home

Tips for Preventing Poison Ivy Rashes

One of the best things you can do to prevent a poison ivy rash is educate yourself about what this plant looks like so that you’ll easily be able to spot it and avoid it. Poison ivy grows as a vine or a shrub, sometimes with white berries, and each of its leaves features three leaflets (remember the saying “leaves of three, let them be”). If you locate poison ivy on your property, be sure to safely dispose of it. You should also:

  • Wear long sleeves, pants, and tall socks when spending time outdoors (you may also want to wear gloves and boots when gardening)
  • Use an over-the-counter barrier cream
  • Walk along cleared pathways when hiking
  • Keep your pets from running through wooded areas, since you could develop a rash after touching any plant oil left on their fur

If you think you might have touched poison ivy—or a contaminated object—thoroughly wash your entire body as soon as possible to remove any plant oil residue from your skin (don’t forget to scrub under your fingernails, too). You should also wash any clothing or other items that may have brushed against the plant.

Can Poison Ivy Spread From Person to Person?

If you’ve recently come into contact with poison ivy—or if you’ve been around someone with a poison ivy rash—you may be wondering whether poison ivy can spread from one person to another. You can rest easy knowing that poison ivy rashes aren’t contagious. These rashes are caused by an allergic reaction to the plant’s oil, so as long as you’ve thoroughly washed the oil off your skin, you won’t need to worry about transmitting the rash to your friends and family members (even if any resulting blisters break).

Tick Bite & Poison Ivy Rash Treatment Near You

If you think you may have been bitten by a tick or come into contact with poison ivy, you can turn to PhysicianOne Urgent Care for treatment. We have urgent care centers across Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York, all of which are open 365 days per year with extended hours. To make receiving care as convenient as possible for our patients, we offer walk-in availability, online booking, and a 24/7 integrated telehealth service.

This was the fastest, easiest, and best doctor's visit. The provider was extremely kind and helpful. I explained my symptoms, the provider asked a few followup questions, and then she issued a script. I will absolutely be using this service again and would recommend to anyone.
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