Poison Ivy


Poison Ivy is the WORST! The poison ivy rash occurs when a person comes in contact with the oil (urushiol) from the poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac plant.  These plants have 3 leaves coming off a single stem, hence the saying, "leaves of 3, let them be." Leaves start out green, but can turn red or brown, and even dead plants can cause the rash.   To cause the rash, the plant does not necessarily have to touch your skin, but instead could touch your shoes or clothes, the hair of a pet, or even a garden tool.  Then when you touch these objects, the oils are transferred your skin, causing the reaction to begin. 

Rash progression

After contact with the plant, it may take 1-4 days for the rash to develop.  It begins as red streaks and then turns into blisters. The rash is incredibly itchy!  It may appear in new places for up to 2 weeks.  This gives the impression that the rash is spreading,  but in fact any area where the rash appears is from the original contact with the oil.  Of course, if you are continuing to touch the oil (for example, if it is on shoes still being worn), the rash can spread. The rash is not spread by scratching, by fluid in the blisters, or by person to person contact.   It may take up to 3 weeks for the rash to fully go away.

Symptom prevention and treatment  

Wash off:  As soon as possible, take off clothes and shoes worn when poison ivy was contacted and wash all skin with very warm water and mild soap or dish soap. The more expensive “poison ivy soaps” don’t seem to work any better than dish soap. Wash clothes and shoes (if possible) in washing machine.  If shoes can’t be washed, clean shoe surface well with dish soap before wearing again.

Home remedies to alleviate symptoms:

Avoid the following: topical anesthetics containing benzocaine, topical antihistamines like Benadryl cream, and topical antibiotics that contain neomycin or bacitracin. These could make the rash worse.

How can I prevent getting poison ivy again?

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