Poison ivy is a small plant that causes those who come in contact with it a big problem. Because of urushiol, the oil that is found in the plant, most people breakout with a rash after touching poison ivy. If you think you’ve touched poison ivy there are some typical symptoms, and some rare ones, to look out for and some easy treatments that will help subside the effects.
It is important to note that there are other ways to get the rash, other than touching the plant itself. You can receive it by wearing clothes that had come in contact with poison ivy, as well as using gardening tools that have had poison ivy on them or touching pets that have come into contact with poison ivy. You can also obtain the rash by burning the poison ivy plant, because will release urushiol. The best way to prevent poison ivy is to keep clean: wash gardening tools, pets, your hands, etc, with water (no soap). This may not prevent receiving the rash one hundred percent, but getting the oil out of your system quickly will help lessen the severity of the rash. You can also wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts if you know you will be around plants (for example: if you’re gardening or hiking).
Also, with so many plants that resemble poison ivy (Virginia Creeper, Boxelder Maple and Kudzu, to name a few) it is important to know what poison ivy looks like in order to help prevent being exposed to it. The poison ivy plant is a cluster of three smooth leaves; each leaf is shaped like an almond, that alternate on a vine that has no thorns and colors ranging from light green to dark green, depending on the plants maturity. Websites like www.poison-ivy.org, sell cards and posters that depict the plant (or you can Google images to have an idea of what to look for). However knowing what the plant looks like is not a surefire way to prevent touching/being exposed to poison ivy. Therefore it is important to know what the symptoms are, so you can tell if you have been exposed to poison ivy.
Within one to two days after exposure to poison ivy curved red lines of red itchy bumps (or blisters), which might become painful, will appear on the skin that came in contact with the plant. The rash is caused by an allergic reaction to the aforementioned urushiol, which is prevalent in the plant and usually lasts between five and fifteen days. However depending on the amount of exposure a person has, more of the rash may continue to appear over this time, which gives the appearance of spreading, but this is just the appearance as the rash does not spread to any area that wasn’t touched by the oil. Poison ivy is also not contagious (therefore it cannot be spread from one person to another).
Other symptoms of poison ivy, in extreme reactions, include a fever (over 100 degrees) or swelling of the throat, neck or eyelids. Others might find large liquid-filled blisters within their rash, dizziness or difficulty breathing. Those who are highly allergic to poison ivy can have the rash occur all over their body.
It is important to call a doctor if you believe you have come into contact with poison ivy, to begin the proper treatment process (and if treatment ends too soon, the rash could come back). In order to prevent infection you should not scratch the rash. To sooth the rash you can use remedies like wet compresses, oatmeal baths, antihistamines (like Benadryl), or hydrocortisone cream. In more serious cases of poison ivy doctors may prescribe pills, ointments or injections to help ease the rash or pain.
Being exposed to poison ivy might be unavoidable, which is why it’s important to know how to tell if you have been exposed and know how to treat it if you do have a poison ivy rash.
Official Website, “http://www.poison-ivy.org/”. Poison Ivy
Alan Rockoff, MD, “Poison Ivy, Oak & Sumac”. Medicinenet.com
Healthwise, “Poison Ivy, Oak or Sumac -Topic Overview”. webMD
Beauchot, Kathleen “Poison Ivy Symptoms”. Healthy Skin Guide
American Academy of Family Physicians “Poison Ivy”. FamilyDoctor.org