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August 16, 2017

What Everyone Should Know About Poison Ivy Rash

Poison ivy rash – Anyone who grew up in the eastern United States or Canada will undoubtedly have several colorful stories to tell about toxicodendron radicans, otherwise known as poison ivy. This poisonous North American plant is a small and unobtrusive green leafy shrub or vine that would probably go completely unnoticed, except for its dramatic effect on humans. While some people are naturally immune, most of us will develop a painful itchy rash whenever bare skin comes into contact with this plant. This is because of a liquid compound called urushiol found in the plant’s sap.

Upon contact with urushiol, an allergic reaction forms in 70-85% of people. The first sign is severe itching and bumps. This will usually happen within a few hours after contact. As the reaction runs its course, these bumps will begin to blister and ooze. Eventually the abrasions will dry and scab over. In most cases, symptoms will clear up after 1-4 weeks, during which an itchy sensation is strong and persistent. The vast majority of cases occur from passing contact while walking in areas where the plants thrive. More severe effects can occur when the plant is burned or eaten as urushiol will bind with the interior of the mouth, throat or lungs and can lead to dangerous respiratory problems. The best way to avoid outbreaks is to avoid contact with poison ivy altogether. As the old words of wisdom state: ‘leaves of three, let it be.’

Poison Ivy Rash

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poison ivy rash

Poison ivy is more prevalent now than it was in the past, mostly because of the accidental expansion of the plant’s desired habitats. The shrubs like direct sunlight, and love border areas where open spaces meet patches of woods. The edges of yards and fields, rock walls, and wooded paths are perfect habitats for poison ivy. This means that suburban North America has unwittingly become a dream habitat for this plant. These days, the plant is so common in many regions that to walk near woods without shoes and socks is an open invitation for a poison ivy rash.

Poison Ivy Rash

Most children in the eastern US and Canada learn to identify the plant at a young age. Even so, this unassuming plant can be hard to spot amidst the undergrowth. It is characterized by groups of three leaflets that are green turning to red in the fall. The surface of the leaves are slightly shiny and can have serrated edges or not depending on the sub-species. This plant can grow as a shrub up to a foot high, or as a creeping vine on tree trunks and rocks.

The active itching agent present in the plant will remain active long after the plant has died or is no longer present. This means that even touching dead and dried leaves and stems is likely to lead to a reaction. What’s more, sap can easily become attached to animal fur, tools, or clothing. Special precautions should be taken to wash clothes, animals, and so on that may have come into contact with poison ivy.

poison ivy rash

In most cases, allergic reaction is annoying but not overly dangerous. Left alone, the effects will go away by themselves. It it always best not to scratch a poison ivy rash if possible to avoid damaging the skin and causing healing to take longer. Contrary to popular belief, a poison ivy rash is not transferable by contact with oozing skin. The liquid that seeps from cracked blisters is created by the body and is not urushiol. If oozing is especially problematic, it can be reduced by cooling the affected area.

While there is no way to eliminate a poison ivy rash after contact, there are ways to reduce discomfort. On of the most popular is to apply calamine lotion to the area. This reduces itching and helps to dry the area. Another popular cure is to apply common under-arm deodorant. This has a similar effect to calamine, drying and cooling the area.

Jewel weed is an effective herbal cure that has been scientifically proven to reduce itching and eliminate the effects of a poison ivy rash more quickly. For this remedy, a 1:4 compound of jewel weed is applied to the affected area frequently. This can shorten the full course of the allergic reaction by several days or even weeks. While most people will find exposure to poison ivy annoying and uncomfortable, it will only be dangerous in extreme cases. Certain individuals will have stronger reactions and will need to be especially careful to avoid contact.

Although annoying, this eastern pest is not likely to go away any time soon. Instead, it will most likely continue to flourish as eastern North America continues to undergo subdivision. The best way to avoid contracting a poison ivy rash is to learn how to correctly identify the plant and avoid contact. It is also wise to avoid walking though forest undergrowth with unprotected feet, and to be especially vigilant in border areas around yards and fields.

poison ivy rash

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Poison Ivy Rash

Poison Ivy Rash

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