- What Is Poison Ivy?
- Causes of Poison Ivy
- How Does Poison Ivy Rash Look Like?
- Signs and Symptoms of Poison IVY
- Is Poison Ivy Contagious?
- Diagnosis of Poison Ivy Rash
- Treatment of Poison Ivy Rash
- Home Remedies to Get Rid of Poison Ivy Rash
- Prevention of Poison Ivy Rash
- Facts About Poison Ivy
- When to See a Doctor?
Eradicating poison ivy is no easy task. Here in this article, we explore the various components detailing the causes and symptoms of this toxic plant. If you had ever been a victim of the rash, you would know how long it takes to get rid of poison ivy symptoms. Read to know more about the best ways to get rid of poison ivy rash.
What Is Poison Ivy?
Native to Continental America, Poison Ivy develops as low shrubs or, in most cases, as vines. This flowering plant thrives along wetlands, forests, coastlines, and even in parks. Since they only require partial sunlight to grow, these plants can best be found where the ground has been disturbed. The entire makeup of this toxic plant consists of flowers, berries, buds, and leaves, wherein the leaves are thought to be the most dangerous.
Causes of Poison Ivy
Urushiol, found in the sap of the poison ivy, easily clings to various surfaces when it comes into contact with them. Besides gardening tools and equipment, it can also cling to your skin, pet fur, your clothes even through indirect contact. Once the urushiol (the oil of the poison ivy) bonds with our skin, our body violently reacts to it in the form of a dreadful rash that soon spreads to the rest of the body.
Some of the causes for developing poison ivy rash are-
- Primarily, when you come into direct contact with the plant.
- Inhaling the smoke after burning the poison ivy often harms your nasal passages and lungs. It is recommended to wear a mask while burning the plant.
- Coming into contact with the oil through indirect means, like through your shoe or your gardening equipment
Exposure to poison ivy can lead to severe inflammation within your body, resulting in activating your immune system.
How Does Poison Ivy Rash Look Like?
Depending on the place of your contact with the poison ivy, the rash will take around 24-72 hours to develop. These rashes can prolong up to three weeks from the day of contact but usually peak during the first week. Rash developed from contact with a poison ivy plant or a poison oak can look blotched or like red raised skin blisters. Nevertheless, if you are still in contact with poison ivy, new patches of rashes can develop fast.
Signs and Symptoms of Poison IVY
If the poison ivy rash has infected you, here are the signs and symptoms that you need to look out for-
- Intense itching
- Crusting skin
- Breathing trouble
- Major swelling, if the condition is serious
- Skin blisters
Most times, the severity of your affliction rests on the level of urushiol you were in contact with.
Is Poison Ivy Contagious?
Absolutely not! Poison Ivy does not spread from person to person. However, the oil of the poison ivy can attach itself to various surfaces causing rashes. The rash in itself is not contagious and does not spread to other parts of the body. If it does spread, it can be because of your continued interaction with the plant oil or delayed reaction.
Being in direct contact with the poison ivy plant or its oil can heave several complications. We have listed down a few of those below.
- Upon scratching a rash obtained by poison ivy, the bacteria nestled under your fingertips can lead to a skin infection.
- In certain cases the pus starts to seep from the blisters, you might want to consult a medical practitioner.
- If you have inhaled smoke after burning poison ivy, there is a high chance you would suffer from breathing problems in addition to swelling within the lining of your lungs.
- Poison ivy rash can lead to breathing or swallowing difficulties, which without proper medical treatment may become fatal, often resulting in death.
Diagnosis of Poison Ivy Rash
Generally, the diagnosis is based on the symptoms exhibited by the affected person, including blistering, redness of the skin, intense itching, crusting of the skin, and the like. It helps if the person consults a doctor upon observing the symptoms. This will aid in accurate diagnosis as both poison ivy rashes and psoriasis seem to have similar characteristics when determined by an untrained eye.
Treatment of Poison Ivy Rash
If the poison ivy rash has infected you, you can treat it yourself. There is not much you need to do because of its ability to downplay the severity and clear itself within three weeks. However, if your symptoms are severe and do not look likely to reduce, you need to consult a doctor immediately to remove poison ivy from the skin. Severe symptoms can include difficulty swallowing when the rash covers a better part of your body, rash spreading on your face or private areas, and/or inflammation of the rashes. Here are a few treatment plans that you can consider once infected-
1. Calamine Lotion
Apply calamine lotion to your skin as it can reduce itching.
2. Pain Relievers
Anti-inflammatory pain relievers like Advil and ibuprofen can help soothe your rash.
3. Steroid Cream
The application of OTC steroid cream in the initial stages can reduce the severity of the rash.
Home Remedies to Get Rid of Poison Ivy Rash
1. Colloidal Oatmeal
The ability of the finely grounded oats to bring temporary relief to itching is taken into consideration and often used as a medium for treating several skin conditions, including rashes.
2. Aloe Vera
Throughout centuries, the application of aloe vera on burn victims has been well-reasoned. What many do not know is that aloe vera also has certain properties capable of providing relief to skin itching and inflammation, making it a valuable product.
3. Menthol Cream
Methanol is prominently known for its cooling properties on inflamed skin. Essential oils, which include menthol-like peppermint essential oil and others, can be diluted in regular oil or lotion and left to relieve the irritated skin.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is the immediate go-to for most people when they want to get rid of poison ivy bumps on their skin. Anecdotal evidence alludes that the vinegar solution sears the oil of the poison ivy plant, which accelerates the healing process.
5. Witch Hazel
Application of Witch Hazel directly on the skin can reduce inflammation and burning. Witch Hazel has been involved in protecting your skin against damage and also wards off any infection, proving it to be a strong ally.
6. Cold Compress
Cold compresses are amazingly helpful when it comes to itching and swelling. All you have to do is pour cold water or keep ice cubes on a clean cloth and compressing it on the affected part several times a day for around 15-30 minutes.
7. Rubbing Alcohol
Washing your skin in rubbing alcohol within an hour of being in contact can get rid of poison ivy quickly. Alcohol removes the oil of urushiol from your skin can either help you avoid a severe breakout of rashes.
8. Cucumber Slices
Cucumber slices on top of the affected skin can ease swelling and skin irritation.
9. Bentonite Clay
The mixture of bentonite clay and water, made into a paste, has reportedly been known to relieve and reduce inflammation of the affected body.
10. Baking Soda
Sodium bicarbonate has been proven to give relief to poison ivy rashes when mixed with water.
Prevention of Poison Ivy Rash
Here are some tips which can help you prevent getting infected by the poison ivy plant.
- Cover yourself properly, including your eyes, before going out to poison ivy-prone areas.
- Always carry an ivy-blocking cream to protect your skin from absorbing the oil of the poison ivy plant.
- Clean your equipment and clothes which you had worn and exposed outdoors
- Steer away from regions where poison ivy thrives
- Make sure that you scrub under your fingernails while taking a bath. Otherwise, it can spread to other parts of your body.
Facts About Poison Ivy
Here are a few solid facts that you need to know about poison ivy-
- You should never burn poison ivy as it can harm your health.
- Urushiol clings to your skin within seconds.
- Oils from poison ivy can cause dermatitis.
- The leaves of the poison ivy plant change color according to the seasons.
- Poison ivy is not contagious.
- Pets do not get the rash.
- Poison ivy plants are everywhere.
When to See a Doctor?
You have to consult a doctor or seek urgent medical help, especially when-
- You see yellow scabs or pus oozing out from your blisters
- Your temperature increases more than a 100ºF
- When your rashes do not decrease, and you find it challenging to get a proper night’s sleep.
- You have inhaled the smoke after burning the poison ivy plant.
- The rash has broken onto your face, genital area, or mouth.
- You notice extreme inflammation.
Urushiol can remain potent for weeks at a stretch, so you must rinse your skin with water and a good soap to remove yourself from any lingering oil. It is always better to take preventive measures when you venture out into the forests than to risk your health.