Poison Ivy Rash: How To Recognize It And What To Do To Ease The Symptoms

Lifestyle & Health

Have you ever heard about poison ivy? This is a plant that grows almost everywhere in North America and contacting with it may result in allergic reaction and rash. The truth is that this plant isn’t really poisonous.

However, it contains a sticky oil called urushiol that causes a blistering rash after it touches your skin. Even very slight contact can lead to a severe allergic response.

How to spot the danger

Poison ivy has three leaves: one in the center and one on each side. They typically look shiny with smooth edges. If you had an unpleasant experience with poison ivy, you know that the rash is difficult to ignore. But the rash can form within 72 hours after the contact. The symptoms often last about seven days, but in some cases, it takes more than three weeks to heal.

Common symptoms of poison ivy rash

Once you have come into contact with poison ivy, the signs and symptoms may include the following:

  • swelling;
  • itching;
  • redness;
  • an outbreak of blisters or bumps.

In most cases, you can treat poison ivy rash at home, but sometimes it can result in serious complications. The rash can be a medical emergency, so go to the emergency room for urgent professional care if:

  • you experience shortness of breath;
  • you have trouble swallowing;
  • a large area of your body is involved;
  • the rash is on your face;
  • you notice severe swallowing.

What you can do at home to ease the symptoms.

Urushiol starts to irritate your skin within minutes, so if you suspect you have had contact with poison ivy, wash the area with water and soap as soon as possible. If you haven’t enough water, rubbing alcohol can also help. Here are several things you can do to relieve your symptoms.

  1. Wash your clothes and anything that may have touched poison ivy. The oil can spread and cause new rashes. Also, don’t forget clean your boots or shoes.
  2.  Take an antihistamine. An over-the-counter antihistamine can be a great way to lessen itching and this in turns can help you sleep better.
  3.  Use drying lotion. Calamine lotion can also relieve the itching. Your doctor may prescribe hydrocortisone cream to ease the irritation.
  4. Avoid scratching. Well, scratching can bring comfort, so it can be hard to resist. At the same time, scratching prolongs the painful symptoms. Moreover, you may get an infection if you hurt your skin.

Normally, your pets don’t get poison ivy rash. Their fur protects them from the harmful oil, but it can stay on the fur for a long time and rub off on your skin. If your pets were in the areas where poison ivy grows, bathe them carefully when you are at home. Don’t forget to wear gloves.

Remember that you can get health issues even in case you don’t touch the leaves. If you burn them in your yard, the smoke can lead to problems. The chemicals can bother your nose, eyes, and lungs. So visit your doctor as soon as possible if you breathe the smoke.

Source: HealthLine, MedicineNet, WebMD

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This article is purely for informational purposes. Do not self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information stated in the article.