This age-old advice refers to poison ivy, one of three plants (poison oak and poison sumac are the other two) that can cause an irritating rash called contact dermatitis. The rash is a reaction to urushoil, an oil that is found in all three plants’ leaves, stems, roots and berries. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do for poison ivy treatment right at home.
The rash is very itchy and uncomfortable. It turns the skin red, and blisters and small bumps appear. The rash can’t spread if you scratch it because it’s an allergic reaction. If the rash appears to be spreading, it’s usually because those spots already came into contact with urushoil directly or you spread the oil by touching the affected area. Luckily, these symptoms can easily be treated.
If you know you’ve come in contact with the plants but haven’t seen the symptoms yet, wipe the affected area with rubbing alcohol, then cleanse it with water – soap can move the urushoil to other areas of your skin.
If the rash has already appeared, you can relieve some of the symptoms using cool compresses. Take antihistamines and apply calamine lotion to help stop the itching and dry out the reaction. Try not to scratch the rash – it can cause infection. The rash will usually last for about 10 days, though some cases may take longer to heal.
Some people have severe allergic reactions to urushoil. If you experience excessive swelling or if the rash covers a very large area, seek medical attention. For extreme cases of poison ivy, oak or sumac, a doctor can prescribe a corticosteroid treatment to help with the swelling.
Poison ivy, oak and sumac reactions can easily be avoided by learning how to identify the plants ahead of time and keeping away from them. If you have to come in contact with the plants, be sure to wear heavy clothing such as long pants and long-sleeved shirts to create a barrier.
Summer is a great time to play outdoors, but make sure you and your children recognize and avoid these poisonous plants so you can spend your afternoons scratch-free and not have to use your poison ivy treatment plan.
Tags: summer emergencies