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Always Watch For Poison Ivy

On home inspections I always watch for poison ivy.

And you have to!  When people buy houses sometimes it is growing all over the siding and the sellers don't know!  Someone buying the house can get in there, start ripping out the poison ivy and be rewarded with a huge problem in return!  When I see it I point it out to my clients.

Some people aren't affected by it.  I don't know what percentage that is, but most people are affected.

And there's poison oak and poison sumac* to look out for!

Poison ivy is a true ivy.  It grows everywhere - on trees, on the ground, and on structures.

It has three equal, green leaves, often shiny.  It can be a vine or a shrub.

If you see an ivy with a very thick and  "hairy" root going up the side of the house or a tree, it is poison ivy.

The plant is very aggressive.  It grows by sending out shoots (rhizomes) which can reattach elsewhere on the structure or tree, or grow underground to sprout up elsewhere.

If you see it, try to find the source and spray it there with an herbicide.  Cutting it off does not solve the problem.  You have to kill the roots. 

The source is always in the ground

BUT

be careful!  Even when it is dead and dried up it can still be dangerous!

The leaves are covered with an oil that will attach to skin or clothing.  The oil can be spread from person to person, clothing to clothing, or even animal to human!

Once the oil bonds to the molecules of the skin YOU WILL HAVE POISON IVY, if you are susceptible.

If you think you may have touched poison ivy wash immediately.  I have heard using everything from hot to cold water.  But the main thing to wash with is dish washing soap.  That soap is made to cut grease (oil) and will work well to remove the oil from your skin.  Also, wash any clothing that may have touched it.  Even your shoes and shoelaces.

Should you get a rash there is not much you can do.  Scratching it can spread it!  Don't break the little blisters or you WILL spread it!  Poison ivy rashes love your eyes!

Reducing the size of blisters may help with the itching.  Calamine lotion, alcohol, hydro-cortisone creams, cold compresses and even antihistamine pills can help with that.  But expect to have the rash for a while, a couple of weeks or more, especially if you should spread it to other parts of your body.  You might consider covering it to prevent touching it.  My brother got it terribly every year and used to wear rubber gloves to bed!

My recommendation:  knowledge is power.  Familiarize yourself with its appearance!  When seen avoid it!  If you see it growing in your yard it is best to kill it while it is young.  But killing it as soon as you see it is not too soon!

* Poison oak looks just like poison ivy, but has rounder leaves with softer points, and sometimes has small white berries.  It grows everywhere poison ivy grows.  Poison sumac is shrubby with small white berries.  It has small branches with 7-13 thin, sharp leaves, and mostly thrives in swampy or boggy areas.

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 60 commentsJay Markanich • May 24 2014 03:55AM

Comments

Good morning, Jay....that's nasty stuff, Jay..... stay clear is the answer....

Posted by Barbara Todaro, "Franklin MA Homes" (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) over 4 years ago

I hate poison ivy.  I'm very allergic, if there is such a term.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) over 4 years ago

Nasty stuff can we say been there done that?  thankfully I don't hove any at my home.

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) over 4 years ago

And it's everywhere Barbara!  It is coming for you...

Debbie - some people are exceptionally allergic.  The doctor said my brother had it in his blood!

James - good!  Look out for it when you look at houses!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

I've been highly allergic since I was about 12 years old after enhaling fumes.  The city, D.C. was burning growth in a hillside at the reservoir on Channing St. 

I was on medication for weeks and have been extremely sensitive since.  I've had a few outbreaks since and have to take the dreaded steriods for treatment.

Needless to say, I watch out for the stuff with an eagle eye. 

For one who loves the outdoors, it's a pain.  I rarely fish from a bank anymore.  Too risky.  Give me a boat. 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 4 years ago

My brother is exceptionally allergic too Lenn.  It's too bad to get it so severely.  And the rashes last longer.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Jay, That stuff can be nasty to some. I do like he remedy of Alcohol, drink enough of it and you will not think of the poison ivy.

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Jay, that is some nasty stuff. My Wife got it one year and it was a mess. Fortunately, I have never gotten the rash.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 4 years ago

We have patches of it in our woods and up at the cabin.  We stay away in droves.

Posted by Don Sabinske, Sabinske & Associates Inc. (Don Sabinske, Sabinske & Associates Inc.) over 4 years ago

Yikes!  I hate poison ivy.  I think I only had it once as a kid.  I'm always careful not to touch the stuff.  

Posted by Amanda Christiansen, Christiansen Group Realty (Christiansen Group Realty (260)704-0843) over 4 years ago

Jay - Thanks for sharing this information. I really need to be able to recognize this stuff before I learn whether or not I am allergic to it. I never had an inspector mention this in an inspection. You are going the extra mile. Your clients are foruntae to have you as their inspector.

Posted by Stacey Williams, Experienced Metro Atlanta Real Estate Agent over 4 years ago

amazing that a plant can come up with a response specifically geared toward man that says ...leave me alone or else....I get it!

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 4 years ago

I remember poison Ivy as a kid living back east, we don't have it here in California. But we do have Poison Oak which has the same qualities Ja; it just looks a little different. It is that time of year.

Posted by Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366, General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage (Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366) over 4 years ago

Jay, this is a great post for this time of year! Many people think of poison ivy as a small plant growing next to a path in the woods. In reality it's everywhere... Sometmes you'll see it as a vine a couple inches thick climbing up a tree.  Scary stuff. Not to be confused with Virginia Creeper which has five leaves and also climbs up trees!

Posted by Tom White, Franklin Homes Realty LLC, Franklin TN (Franklin Homes Realty LLC (615) 495-0752 or www.FranklinHomesRealty.com) over 4 years ago

Good Morning and this is some great advice!!  keep up the good work and good luck with your business,  E

Posted by Ed & Tracy Oliva, The Oliva Team Arizona Agents (West USA Realty - Arizona) over 4 years ago

Good reminder too watch out for this stuff. I started scratching just reading your post.  I don't want to find out first hand about the effects of getting too close to poisonous plants!

Posted by Christi Hacker, Your Omaha Area Real Estate Specialist (Keller Williams Greater Omaha) over 4 years ago

Haven't seem it in awhile. but remember it from growing up. No easy way to cure it either. Guess I will stay out of the woods.

Posted by Bill Reddington, Destin Florida Real Estate (Re/max Southern Realty) over 4 years ago

I dislike poison ivy and poison sumac. I wasn't allergic to sumac as a kid, but I am now!

Even burning sumac or ivy can infect people. I have an uncle who burning poison sumac and he actually got it in his throat and lungs. Beats me how, but that was the doctor's diagnosis.

Posted by Than Maynard, Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862 (Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma) over 4 years ago

Jay, It's pretty common on our turf.  We have to watch for it around the treeline of our own home, and when showing homes we know to keep our eyes peeled.  We've encountered a couple of homes you'd have thought they were cultivating it there was so much there.  Bill

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com) over 4 years ago

Awww Lenn...

Jay: I read this through and through!  Great info and warnings!

In any case, we don't really see that here in Hawaii.....but I went to N.C. with my daughter and grandson (to await her husbands return from Afhanistan) this past January and I paid the next door neighbor to clear out the back. (my daughter and grandson came home for the previous year)  He did a wonderful job and had a couple friends help him.

We didn't see him for a couple days after and my daughter went next door. OH MY...he had the rash from head to foot!  It was in the cold of winter and way in the corner of the yard. He then told her he was allergic!  Yup...it's all dried up and he didn't see the tiny patch in the corner!  Poor guy!

Posted by Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman, (RA) AHWD CRS ePRO OAHU HAWAII REAL ESTATE (Liberty Homes) over 4 years ago

Jay- even though I was a girl scout, I still have a hard time identifying poison ivy.  My husband is very sensitive and has cream from his dermatologist.  He is always traipsing around in the woods looking for his planes. 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) over 4 years ago

Applying white vinegar to the affected areas is also a big help in accelerating the drying process of the poision and reduces the itching.

Posted by Randy Mitchelson, APR, First Impressions are made at First Click (iPartnerMedia.com #goipm & Homeland Heroes Home Loans) over 4 years ago

Damn, now I can't get that song out of my head. Love The Coasters.

Posted by Joe Pryor, REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties (The Virtual Real Estate Team) over 4 years ago

Jay:  I, like many others here, am very sensitive to this dang stuff.  If it's in the area, I catch it.  I've heard you can even get it in your lungs if someone burns it.  I've taken the steroids too often to count ... so am always on the lookout.  Awful awful stuff!

Gene 

Posted by Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi, 708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience (NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656) over 4 years ago

Thanks for the reminder, Jay. It is insidious stuff - especially since it's still a problem after it is dead & when it is burned. It's all over our area.
Bruce

 

Posted by Bruce Kunz, REALTOR®, Brick & Howell NJ Homes for Sale (C21 Solid Gold Realty, Brick, NJ, 732-920-2100) over 4 years ago

Jay, you are so right - best strategy is prevention! The cures don't really work very well and the healing process is extremely long, not to mention uncomfortable (as you can tell, I've been there!). Even your pets can bring in the oil on their fur and "infect" you, it's so powerful. 

Posted by Olga Simoncelli, CONSULTANT, Real Estate Services & Risk Management (Veritas Prime, LLC dba Veritas Prime Real Estate) over 4 years ago

I am so allergic to poisen Ivy and I avoid it like the plague! Terrible plant! This is such a great reminder to be on the look out for it this time of year. It's miserable to have!

Posted by Kalene Bagwell, Realtor - Selling Blue Springs - Kansas City Metro (Realty Executives Of Kansas City) over 4 years ago

Good evening Jay. I am constantly on the look out for that stuff. I see it everywhere and avoid it with a passion.

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) over 4 years ago

I always watch for Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Poison Sumac.. any of those will "reach out and grab me" if I get anywhere near them.  Poison Sumac affects me the worse.. with swelling and pain.  

Posted by 1 ~Judi & Don Barrett & Chassy Eastep - Integrity, BS Ed, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDABEL OK (Integrity Real Estate Services 118 SE AVE N, Idabel, OK 74745) over 4 years ago

My neighbor's have Poison Ivy growing in their yard, right next to my fence. I've asked them nicely, I've sprayed through the fence ... but it keeps coming back. The only thing I can do is a) wait for new neighbors and b) keep it contained to their side of the fence which is not an easy task.

Posted by Andrea Bedard, M.A.; REALTOR® Silver Spring, MD and beyond (Thompson Company, REALTORS®) over 4 years ago

Somehow poison ivy always found me in Georgia, one thing I don't miss about Georgia.

Posted by Pete Xavier, Outstanding Agent Referrals-Nationwide (Investments to Luxury) over 4 years ago

Poison ivy would be a bad thing to have growing on one's house or in the yard. We have poison oak, but I wouldn't recognize poison ivy and would definitely appreciate having you or my agent point it out if I were a buyer.

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Serving San Francisco and the Silicon Valley (Compass) over 4 years ago

Jay, I am so allergic to the stuff that just reading this is making me want to scratch! 

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 4 years ago

Thanks for this very informative post. I think I'll skip the poison ivy.

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) over 4 years ago

Don - yeah, but you have to stay that way for a long time!

Some do, some don't Mike.  I don't think I do, but I'm not testing it!

Don - yep, stay away any way you can!

A&J - sometimes you can touch it with clothing without realizing it.  And THEN get it!

Thanks Stacey.  I mention it every time I see it.  As a Scoutmaster I have to be helpful!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

I get it too Richie.  We try to make sure the boys recognize it the first day of summer camp, so they don't end up with it in a couple of days!

Oak might even be more aggressive Tom.  And you are right, CA is not a state that has poison ivy.

Sometimes people point to Creeper and ask me if it's poison ivy Tom.

E&T - it is good advice!  Thanks.

They are everywhere Christi and looking for YOU!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Bill - once contracted it is there period.  Most people actually make it worse.

Probably by asking questions Than.  But yes, you can ingest the smoke.

Some people actually do Bliz, without realizing that's what they are growing!

Good to hear that Sally - you'll do better on the pop quiz!  Contracting it the way your neighbor did is very common!

Kathy - the creams do little, just shrink the blisters.  It's easy to identify - three equal leaves, smooth edges, shiny, and very green.

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Randy - white vinegar seems to do so many things!

Sorry you went to the song Joe!  In that song, do you know what "poison ivy" is a metaphor for?

Gene - once you have it, you have it!  Inside and out!

It's spring Bruce.  I thought I would get out my annual poison ivy post.

Olga - that is true.  I mention pets in the post.  And clothing!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Kalene - you are right to watch out.  Uncomfortable is a meager word compared to the suffering.

You have there what we have here Michael.  I see it in many properties!

Judi - they are looking for you and will find you at the least expected moment.  Dress to the 9s.

Andrea - from a distance see if you can locate the roots that come from the soil (likely there are many).  And spray there.  It may take a couple of tries.

Pete - the rhizomes are following you underground even now.  Just wait.

Lottie - it's similar enough to poison oak that it doesn't matter.  Look for the three, equal leaves.

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Check your yard and the side fences carefully Pat.  Willie can bring you a gift.

What do you have against a nice green salad Joan?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Thank you for the post. I know I am allergic to poison ivy but can't identify it so I stay away from all weeds.

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) over 4 years ago

Por nada, Gita.  Look at the close up photo in the post and avoid THAT plant!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Hey, Jay!  I included this post in today's Last Week's Favorites.  Have a great Memorial Day weekend.

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 4 years ago

Hi Jay,

It is bad stuff and I do avoid it like the plague! When I was little I was very susceptible and had weekly shots in the summer...not fun!!!

Posted by Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR, Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate (Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.346.1799) over 4 years ago

If it is in your yard, and you have dogs, you also have to be very careful, because they can bring it in on their coat.

Posted by Lori Fishkind, Realtor (Reliant Realty) over 4 years ago

Thanks Pat!  Always a pleasure to be there.

Yikes Dorie!  Must have been steroid shots.

That's true Lori.  I said that in the post because I know people who have gotten it that way.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

That sounds like experience talking. How much did it hurt Jay?

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) over 4 years ago

It's the experience of a Scoutmaster, Robert.  I have never gotten it.  My brother got it terribly year after year though.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

I grew up with Poison Ivy in Conn---have yet to see it out here.  If you burn the stuff and enhale the smoke it can actually kill you if you get it inside your lungs.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

There are a few comments about burning it Charlie, but you haven't seen it because it is waiting for the prime opportunity to reach out and get you.

Check your six.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago
Hiker, so I know the dangers! Happy summer, Laura
Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) over 4 years ago

Poison ivy waiting in the woods behind and under things to jump out when hikers go by Laura.  It is sneaky stuff.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Dear Jay -
Just yesterday I had to teach the folks who were house-hunting with me what it was. They had never seen poison ivy before.
Have a happy day -
Lynn

Posted by Lynn B. Friedman, Concierge Service for Our Atlanta Sellers & Buyers (Atlanta Homes ODAT Realty Call/Text 404-939-2727 Buckhead - Midtown - Westside -- and more ...) over 4 years ago

Excellent Lynn!  You were able to help them!  That's being a good neighbor!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Jay, 

Thank you for such a great piece of information! 

 

An interesting thing that I personally learned....you can not be affected by one type, and STILL be by another! My sister was terribly allergic to poison ivy,getting it every summer as a kid but not me. Then, I volunteered to help clean our local park and was severely affected by poison oak. And that was at the age of 40 something! Ended up on prednisone, prescribed after he saw my condition (it was ALL OVER) and used the word "impressive" when he saw it....not exactly a look I was going for!

Posted by Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate, "Your Local Expert!" 503-755-2905 (John L Scott Market Center) over 4 years ago

How wonderful when the doctor says that Gayle!  You must have been on steroids for a while.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

     As children, we were taught the poem, "Leaves of three; let it be."   I'm immune to the stuff, but I remember my stepbrother being covered with a red rash after getting into a patch of it.  He was itching like crazy!    

Posted by Fred Griffin, Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker (Fred Griffin Real Estate) over 4 years ago

I remember that one too Fred.  Then there's, "Don't bend over in the garden Grandma, thems taters got eyes!"

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Thanks for this descriptive post.  It is my hope that I will never encounter poison ivy!  I never thought about the oil spreading from person to person.

Posted by Sharon Parisi, Dallas Homes (United Real Estate Dallas ) over 4 years ago

Sharon - I thought one of the first things we learn is to share.  As hard as sharing is to learn though, why is it that sharing poison ivy is so easy?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

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