What is Poison Ivy?

A poison ivy rash is a form of contact dermatitis that occurs after contact with the poison ivy plant. The rash will usually appear within one to three days after exposure to the plant and can last for several weeks. The rash will often appear as streaks of blistering bumps. The skin will likely be very itchy, red and possibly swollen.

What Causes Poison Ivy?

An oily substance called urushiol is found on poison ivy plants and is responsible for the rash. Even very small amounts of the oil can cause the rash and the oil can still be present even after the plant has died. You can also come in indirect contact with the oil from clothing, pets, or anything else with the oil on it. Airborne contact is possible if the plant is burned and the particles land on the skin or become inhaled. The rash is not contagious, however, some blisters from the rash can still contain urushiol and can cause spreading or further contamination.

Treatment for Poison Ivy

Poison ivy will often improve with the help of some home remedies including:

  • Applying a cold compress
  • Topical solutions to relieve itching
  • Oral antihistamines

If poison ivy is more severe, a steroid cream or oral corticosteroid might be prescribed. Scratching the rash can sometimes lead to a bacterial infection. If this occurs, an antibiotic might also be needed.

Identifying and Preventing Poison Ivy

Learning how to recognize the poison ivy plant can help you avoid contact. “Leaves of three, let it be,” is a popular saying to help remember what to watch out for. The three leaves will be pointed and can have notched or smooth edges. The plant grows as a vine or shrub and is often found in wooded areas and along riverbanks. They can also be present along roads or in backyards. The leaves of the plant change colors with the season and will appear reddish in the spring, green in the summer, and yellow or orange in the fall.

To prevent contact with poison ivy, wear closed shoes, long pants and sleeves, and gloves if you have to handle the plant. Any clothes that come in contact with the plant should be washed right away. You should also wash any equipment or objects that come in contact with the plant or pets that may have rolled in it.

If you have been exposed to poison ivy, contact Springfield Urgent Care today to receive quick and quality treatment for relief of your symptoms.

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