AUSTIN (KXAN) — Poison ivy is prevalent in Austin. On the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake, not many folks are aware that it’s hiding almost everywhere.
To keep people aware of these poisonous plants, Austin Parks and Recreation Department has posted plenty of warning signs.
“The signs are in place to provide public information about poison ivy, how to identify it,” Park Ranger program manager LeAnn L. Ishcomer said.
If you’re exposed, the reaction could come a few hours later in the form of a bright red rash.
Dr. John Villacis is an allergist with Austin Diagnostic Clinic at St. David’s North Austin Medical Center.
“Intense burning, itching, and it’ll develop blisters usually within those couple of days,” he said.
Villacis said more exposure over time could result in severe symptoms.
“Once you’ve been exposed, the best thing you can do is take some warm water or dishwasher soap and gently try to rub off the oil,” he said.
While taking to the trails, it’s important for folks to remember the saying “leaves of three, let it be.” The notorious leaves of three are the hallmark characteristic of poison ivy.
Steven Baranowski regularly walks near Lady Bird Lake as part of his routine.
“Falling into poison ivy could send you to the hospital if you’re the wrong person,” he said.
Over the years, Baranowski has experienced some bad brush-ups with these poisonous plants.
“I seem to be particularly sensitive to it,” he said. “I’ve got it in my eyes and wound up having to take a course of steroids and anti-itch medicine. In addition to being fairly miserable for a few days.”
Although dogs aren’t allergic to poison ivy, the oil often hitchhikes off furry friends.
“They can carry it on their food and when they’re rubbing up against you, that can get on your legs or your hands,” Ishcomer said.
“You pet the dog, and now your hand is all rashed up,” Baranowski said. “You have no idea why.”
With this in mind, it’s best to be on the lookout, because you never know where it could be camouflaged.
“The best way to stay safe is to travel on durable services and stick to the trail,” Ishcomer concluded.
Despite its itchy nuisance to humans, Austin Parks and Rec maintains poison ivy plays a pivotal part in our ecosystem, serving as a source of food for birds and other animals.