Poison Ivy Rash

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Poison  ivy  rash  is an adverse  reaction  caused  by  some  irritants which  are  present in  plants like poison ivy  and  in some  other  toxic plants  like poison  sumac and poison  oak. The  oily  resin  called  as urushiol  present  in  these  plants  causes  increased  skin  irritation, which  results in  the development of poison  ivy  rash.

Poison  ivy  rash is often recognized  as allergic contact dermatitis. Discomfort  and  distress is  felt  when  this  toxic plants  cause the rashes. However, they do lead to the development of any  serious  complications. Till the poison  ivy  rash is  healed, self care medication may  be followed to eradicate itching.

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Symptoms of poison ivy rash

Some of the symptoms  of poison  ivy  rash are shown  as under:

  • The Poison  ivy  rash always  causes severe and  intense itching
  • Visible redness of  skin particularly over the skin  area affected  by poison  ivy  rash
  • The affected  skin portion  may  have  swelling
  • Normally, the poison ivy rash tends to  appear along a straight line on the path where the poison  ivy plant brushes the skin. But  it could  be expansive if it is  spread through the pets, tools or clothes, which happen to come  in contact  with urushiol.
  • Formation of poison  ivy  rash takes twelve hours to 2 days from the contact time, and it may  last for about eight weeks. The severity depends  on the  quantity of  urushiol that comes in contact  with  the skin.
  • In severe cases, the poison ivy  rash may spread to new areas of skin.
  • The sensitive organs such as the eyes, genitals and the mouth may get infected in complicated cases  of poison  ivy  rash.
  • Blisters  may appear over the affected skin area
  • Severe itching may induce more scratching, which may lead  to  formation  of  additional blisters. Scratching the blisters may result in bacterial infections.
  • Further infections of the blisters may result in oozing of pus from the blisters.

Causes  of Poison  ivy  rash

Poison ivy rash is caused when individuals come into contact with the toxins of the plant.

Poison ivy is a common  plant and has the appearance of a weed. It grows as a plant, a bush, or a solid tree-entwining vine, and each stem usually grows with three leaflets. The poison ivy plants may have some leaves with jagged shape with saw-like edges, while others may have leaves with smooth edges. When seasons change they change their color into yellow, red or orange and fall. It may grow green berries, greenish, or off-white tiny flowers.

The oily resin substance, called  as urushiol, causes the skin irritation. When the toxin  of the poison ivy plant comes in contact with the skin it leads to the skin  irritation. Even a little quantity of urushiol, if absorbed by the skin can cause irritation and can lead to formation of poison ivy rash. As it is oily in nature, the urushiol is sticky and does not dry easily. As such it can cling to the skin, clothes, tools, or a pet’s fur.

The following are some of the circumstances by which people come in contact with urushiol and increase the susceptibility to developing poison  ivy  rash.

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  • Poison ivy rash is not contagious, as such contact of a person with poison  ivy  rash will not lead to spreading except a contact with the resin urushiol.
  • The fumes from a burning poison ivy or toxic plant can cause irritation over the eyes and in nasal passages.
  • A direct contact with the plant, vine, stem, roots, leaves or the berries can cause the poison ivy rash.
  • Sometimes the toxin is transferred through the clothes, boots, tools and pet’s fur when they come in contact with the plants; which in turn spread to the hands and other body parts, when these infected items are handled. This eventually leads to the development of poison  ivy  rash.

It may be noted that urushiol has a long life span, particularly in dry places. The tools, cloths with urushiol  kept in dry storage can cause allergic reaction even after a year. Animals are immune to urushiol, as such they are not affected by poison ivy rash. But for humans, a contaminated pet can cause poison ivy  rash when they come in contact with humans.

Treatment of Poison  ivy 

  • Serious poison ivy rashes with infected blisters can be treated by corticosteroid medicines like prednisone which are consumed orally.
  • Oral antibiotics are given to those patients who are affected with secondary bacterial infections of poison ivy rash. These drugs have to be continued till a doctor recommends otherwise.
  • Normally poison ivy rash is treated with different self care methods, and most of the symptoms generally disappear within a few weeks
  • Oatmeal baths, anti-itch topical medications, cool compresses can help in easing the itching and  provide relief.

What does poison ivy rash  look like -images


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