When you have a contact with a poison ivy plant, you will have an itchy blistering rash on your skin, which is called a poison ivy reaction.
The poison ivy rash or poison ivy reaction is caused by oil found in poison ivy which is called urushiol. Urushiol is found in all parts of the plant like roots, stem and leaves. It absorbs quickly through the skin. You can also acquire rash indirectly through gardening tools, camping equipment or an animal fur which has gone in contact with urushiol. The rash can appear to the skin immediately within hours after exposure or for a several days later. The rash does not spread and these skin reactions can be treated accordingly.
While some type of exposure happens when the plant is burned and the smoke it produces is inhaled which can eventually affect your lungs. It will cause extreme pain and can lead to respiratory difficulty and serious allergic reaction. If the poison ivy is ingested, the lining of the mouth and the passageway of the digestive system may be damaged. Poison ivy reactions may need hospitalization in unusual cases.
Who are at risk of Poison Ivy Reaction?
The following groups of people are at high risk of being exposed to poison ivy and may develop reactions because of it:
- Construction workers
- Line man
Poison Ivy Reaction Cause
You can get a poison ivy rash is through the following ways:
- By getting in contact with the poison ivy that contains urushiol.
- By touching things that has been in exposed to the plant like pet’s fur, gardening tool or other equipments.
- By inhaling the smoke released when the plant is burned.
Remember, you cannot get a rash by touching someone who has the rash. The oil is quickly absorbed by the skin and you cannot acquire a rash from the fluid the blisters are producing.
Poison Ivy Reaction Signs and Symptoms
The rash may start a few hours after exposure and may develop redness and itchiness of the skin. Then hives may start and may swell. An eruption of blisters will form streaks or lines. After that, crusting of skin will happen.
The extent of the rash will depend upon the amount of urushiol you get on your skin. The more exposure to urushiol, the sooner the rash may develop.
Tests and Diagnosis
The rash can be diagnosed through the classical signs and symptoms it has and the onset of rash.
Poison Ivy Reaction Treatment and Home Remedies
The allergic reaction to the plant may not be cured, but the symptoms manifested by it can be healed. You may take the following suggestions:
- Take cool showers or cool compresses
- Apply over-the-counter lotion like calamine lotion to relieve itch
- If the reaction is severe and has reached your eyes, nose, mouth or genitals, you may need to be prescribed with prednisone to control the reaction
- If an infection happens, an antibiotic may be given
- Wash all the clothes that you wear during the contact
- You should not apply antihistamine to your skin as it can worsen the itch and rash. But you can take antihistamine pills.
- Have an oatmeal bath or baking soda bath
Poison Ivy Reaction Prevention
There are ways you can prevent a poison ivy reaction. The following may help you.
- Know and avoid the poison ivy plant.
- Protect your skin by wearing long sleeves, long plants, gloves and boots when going to a place with poison ivy.
- Use an ivy block barrier to prevent absorption of urushiol to the skin.
- Avoid burning the poison ivy plant.
- Wash the tools you used during gardening, camping or other equipments that come in contact with the plant.
- Bathe the animals that are exposed to the plant.