Poison Ivy Poison ivy is wide spread throughout the Ouachita Mountains, and cannot be completely avoided where we hike. The most important thing about poison ivy is to recognize it and try not to touch it. Most folks have heard about the three leaf pattern, but the vines are just as dangerous, even when no leaves are present. The vines can be recognized by their "hairy" nature. Stay away from hairy vines running up tree trunks. If you do touch poison ivy, the next most important thing is to wash the effected skin before the rash develops. If you know you are sensitive to the rash, consider washing your hands in the next creek you cross, even if you use sand or dirt as soap. Taking a good shower as soon as you get home also helps. There is a good product available most places locally called Technu. Technu is a soap specifically formulated to dissolve and remove the oil that causes the rash. Here is a great tip for poison ivy season. Several people have mentioned a plant called jewelweed (impatiens capensis) that is supposed to cure "cure" poison ivy. Don Haase, among others, tells of "curing" a case of poison ivy with the plant a few years ago at the Ozark Folk Center by rubbing the juice from the leaves on the rash. Well, now there is apparently a product that uses jewelweed as the active ingredient. Loretta "Toes" Melancon, is always looking for natural ingredients that do the job of pharmaceuticals, so she ordered a bottle to have on hand. Here are the details: Sumactin (www.sumactin.com) claims to be the strongest natural poison ivy, oak and sumac solution available anywhere with or without a prescription. Its active ingredient (along with a few other herbs) is jewelweed. Sumactin is applied directly to the affected area three times a day and is said to penetrate the skin and goes to work right away fighting the toxins. It is rather pricey at $40 for 4 oz., but it carries a 100% money back guarantee. It is manufactured by Selmedica Healthcare Corp. (800) 492-1480. (back)