Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Illinois
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Poison Ivy
Nature Bulletin No. 32   September 15, 1945
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
Clayton F. Smith, President
Roberts Mann, Superintendent of Conservatio.

We learned that in some schools last year, these weekly nature bulletins did not reach the science or biology teachers; in some they were not posted on any bulletin board, thus defeating their purpose. Four copies are sent to each elementary school in Chicago, and 9iX copies to each high school. We earnestly request that one or more copies be posted for one week on the appropriate bulletin boards, after which they be transmitted to the science or biology teachers for their use.
Bulletin No. 26, dated August 4, stated that some protection against poison ivy could be obtained by rubbing the legs, arms, face and hands with a pasty lather of strong, brown laundry soap, allowed to dry on the skin. And that, as soon as possible after contact, the exposed skin should be washed with the same soap.

We were wrong. The authority from whom we got the recommendation was wrong. We have received a bulletin "Poisonivy and Poisonsumac" by William M. Harlow, published by the New York State College of Forestry at Syracuse University. Dr. Harlow's bulletin should be in the library of every public school, and particularly every botany teacher.

The latest experiments show that, because of the absorbent nature of the human skin, all measures to get rid of the poison must be taken immediately after contact, or within a few minutes And that the best solution appears to be a 10 percent water solution of potassium permanganate. Oily ointments should be avoided in the initial stages of poison ivy dermatitis, since they tend to dissolve and further spread the poison. Any suspected ivy poisoning involving an appreciable area of the skin should be immediately referred to a physician. Of the 250 different "remedies", the few that are really effective should be used only under the direction of a physician.

One large drug-manufacturing firm advertises a poison ivy extract to be injected beneath the skin. It is claimed that such injections will prevent poison ivy dermatitis in persons known to be susceptible, or will effect a quick cure on persons who have acquired it. We have requested Dr. Harlow's opinion of this extract as a preventative and as a remedy.

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