Poison ivy is a plant that can cause a skin rash known as allergic contact dermatitis upon skin contact. The rash is red, uncomfortable and itchy, and it often appears in lines or streaks. It is also filled with bumps and show hives.
What causes poison ivy? The ivy contains an oil called urushiol, which is found in all parts of the plant (the leaves, stems, flowers, berries, and roots). Urushiol is an allergen, so the rash is a reaction to the allergen. Indirect contact with urushiol can also cause a rash. So if you touch clothes, pet fur, sports equipments or other objects that have come in contact with the ivy, you will also get the allergic reaction. However, the urushiol does not cause a rash on everyone.
- Red streaks or general redness
- Small bumps or raised areas
- Blisters filled with fluid
The rash usually appears 8 to 48 hours after initial contact and will continue to spread in new areas of the body. The rash is not contagious; you cannot spread it or catch it after it appears. More serious symptoms of poison ivy include: swelling of the face, mouth, neck, genitals, or eyelids.
Treatment for poison ivy can be done at home. Initially, you must wash off the infected area with copious amounts of water. To relieve symptoms, use wet compresses and take cool bats. Calamine lotion can also help relieve symptoms. More moderate cases of the rash may require doctor treatment and medications such as corticosteroid pills, creams, ointments, or shots.
The best way to avoid getting a poison ivy allergic reaction is to learn to identity the plants and avoid them. Also, heavy clothing and barrier lotions may help for protection as well.