Causes of Poison ivy Rash
Poison ivy rash is caused by the contact of the skin with the oils (resins) of certain plants. Oils often penetrate the skin quickly.
- This is one of the most frequent causes of skin rash among children and adults who spend time outdoors.
- The plant has 3 bright green leaves and a red stem.
Poison ivy typically grows in the form of a vine, often along the banks of rivers. It can be found in most of the United States.
This plant grows in the form of a bush and has 3 leaves similar to poison ivy. Poison oak is found mainly on the west coast.
This plant grows like a woody shrub. Each stem contains 7 to 13 leaves arranged in pairs. Poison sumac grows abundantly along the Mississippi River.
AFTER CONTACT WITH THESE PLANTS
- The rash is not spread by the fluid from the blisters. Therefore, it usually does not spread from one person to another once the person has completely cleansed the oil from the skin.
- Vegetable oils can remain for a long time in clothes, pets, tools, shoes and other surfaces. The contact with these elements can cause eruptions in the future if they are not cleaned well.
The smoke from burning these plants can cause the same reaction.
Symptoms of Poison ivy Rash
- Extreme itching
- Striped red rash or patches where the plant touched the skin
- Red pimples that can form large, festering blisters
The reaction can vary from mild to severe. On rare occasions, it is necessary to hospitalize the person with the rash. The worst symptoms are often observed on days 4 to 7 after being in contact with the plant. The rash may last 1 to 3 weeks.
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First aid against Poison ivy Rash
First aid includes:
- Wash the skin thoroughly with warm water and soap. Since the oil from the plant penetrates the skin quickly, try to wash it within 30 minutes.
- Clean well under the nails with a brush to prevent the oil from spreading to other parts of the body.
- Wash clothes and shoes with hot soapy water. The oils in the plant can last for a while.
- Immediately bathe the animals to remove the oils from the fur.
- The heat and sweat of the body can make the itching worse. Stay cool or apply cold compresses on the skin.
- Calamine lotion and hydrocortisone cream can be applied to the skin to reduce itching and blisters.
- Warm water baths with an oat product, available in drugstores, can relieve itchy skin. Cloths with aluminium acetate (Domeboro solution) can help dry out the rash and reduce itching.
- If the creams, lotions or bath do not relieve the itching, the use of antihistamines can help.
- In severe cases, especially of rash around the face or genitals, the health care provider may prescribe oral steroids or injections.
- Wash tools and other objects with a diluted bleach solution or rubbing alcohol.
It must not
In case of an allergy
- DO NOT touch skin or clothing that still has plant resins on its surface.
- DO NOT burn poison ivy, oak or sumac to get rid of them. Resins can spread through the smoke and can cause severe reactions in people who are far away but with the wind in their favour.
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When to contact a medical professional
Get urgent medical treatment immediately if:
- The person is suffering from a severe allergic reaction, such as swelling or shortness of breath, or has had a serious reaction in the past.
- The person has been exposed to the smoke of the combustion of poison ivy, oak or sumac.
Call your provider if:
- The itching is intense and can not be controlled.
- The rash is affecting the face, lips, eyes or genitals.
- The rash shows signs of infection, such as pus, dripping of yellowish fluid from the blisters, odour, or increased sensitivity.
Prevention from Poison ivy Rash
These steps will help you avoid contact:
- Wear long sleeves, long pants and socks when walking in areas where these plants can grow.
- Apply skin products, such as Ivy Block lotion in advance to reduce the risk of a rash.
Other measures include:
- Learn to identify poison oak, ivy and sumac. Teach children to identify them as soon as they are able to recognize these plants.
- Remove these plants if they grow near the home (but never incinerate them).
- Be aware of the resins of plants transported by pets.
- Wash your skin, clothing and other items as soon as possible after suspecting that you have been in contact with these plants.