And for most people, you certainly want to let poison ivy be…
What is poison ivy?
Poison ivy resembles a weed or shrub and can grow along plants or other trees. Poison ivy has a classic appearance with clusters of three pointed leaves. The leaves are green in summer and various shades of red, yellow and orange in both the spring and the fall.
Poison ivy rash is caused by an allergic reaction to the oily resin known as urushiol that is found in the leaves, stems and roots of poison ivy, poison sumac, and poison oak. The problem with urushiol is that it tends to be sticky and thus attaches to skin quite easily. Urushiol causes an allergic reaction in most people (approximately 85%) who come in contact with it. Depending on what areas of the skin have come in contact with the oil resin, the rash can appear linear or patchy. Areas that have been exposed to a larger amount of urushiol tend to develop a rash more quickly and the rash can appear more severe.
- If you know you are sensitive to poison ivy, avoid the plants as much as possible and wear protective clothing including long-sleeved shirts, pants, hats and socks. If you are doing yardwork, also wear gloves to protect your hands and wrists.
- If there is a possibility of contact with these plants, you can try using a product that contains bentoquatam (Ivyblock) before going outside.
- Wash pets if you think they have come in contact with the plant.
- If you do come in contact with poison ivy, wash your skin right away with mild soap and water. It is best to do this within 20-30 minutes. You will also want to wash any clothing in a washing machine if possible. This will help to reduce your chances of developing a rash.
Signs and Symptoms:
The most common symptoms of a poison ivy rash include itching, redness and blistering. The classic rash typically develops about 12-48 hours after exposures and can last up to several weeks. The severity of the rash is directly related to the amount of urushiol that gets on your skin. In most cases, the rash will appear in a straight line because of the way that the plant brushes up on your skin.
Soothing measures such as oatmeal baths and cool wet compresses can be helpful. In addition, topical calamine lotion may also provide symptomatic relief. It is important not to itch the rash as bacteria can enter the skin and cause an infection.
If you think you have developed poison ivy, please contact your physician to discuss other treatment options depending on the severity of the rash. This may include one or a combination of the following:
- Corticosteroid cream
- Oral antihistamines
- In more severe cases, systemic corticosteroids or antibiotics if a secondary infection is suspected
Is it contagious? Fortunately, No. You can’t get poison ivy from another person unless you have touched urushiol that’s still on that person or their clothing.
Can I get it by touching my pet? Unfortunately, you can. If pets have been around poison ivy and have the oil on their fur, you can get poison ivy.