Not only do warmer months bring about beautiful flowers and warmer weather, it also increases our chance of coming in contact with poison ivy. The swollen, red, itchy rash is a drag for anyone who has a run in with this plant! You can get poison ivy from direct contact with the plant, indirect contact by the plant oil being on a pet or garden tool or it can even be spread in the air if the plant is burned!
What is Poison Ivy?
Poison ivy is found throughout much of North America, including North Carolina, and can grow as a vine or a shrub. The plant has groups of three pointed leaflets that are glossy and green in the spring and summer, then turn bright red, yellow or orange in the fall.
It is important to learn how to identify poison ivy and take precautions to avoid contact with it, such as wearing protective clothing and washing any exposed skin thoroughly after exposure.
How to Identify a Poison Ivy Rash
To identify a poison ivy rash, look for clusters of red, itchy bumps or blisters that may be raised or flat. The rash may be in a straight line or look like it follows the pattern of the plant’s leaves.
In some cases, the rash may be accompanied by swelling or difficulty breathing if the oil has been inhaled or ingested. Seek medical attention right away if you experience severe symptoms or an allergic reaction after contact with poison ivy.
To prevent a rash, wear protective clothing on hands, legs, and arms when working or hiking in areas where the plant is known to grow.
Why Does Poison Ivy Cause a Rash?
Poison ivy contains a substance called urushiol, which is a clear liquid found in the leaves, stems, and roots of the plant. When it comes into contact with the skin, urushiol can cause an allergic reaction called contact dermatitis. This reaction typically results in a red, itchy rash that can take several days to appear.
The rash can be spread through direct contact with urushiol or through indirect contact with items that have come into contact with the substance, such as clothing or tools.
It is important to wash the affected area with soap and water to remove any remaining urushiol. Avoid scratching the rash, as this can cause the blisters to break and result in infection.
In most cases, over-the-counter creams and ointments can help to relieve symptoms, and in severe cases, a doctor may prescribe medication to reduce itching and inflammation.
Try these Home Remedies for Poison Ivy
When getting a case of this annoying rash all we want is to stop the itching and swelling, but before you head to the drug store to get some itch relief, try some of these at-home remedies for poison ivy.
Use Cucumbers to Cool Down Poison Ivy
Cucumbers can cool the itching and provide relief. Cucumbers are a great and easy way to add some soothing relief. Either place slices directly on the skin or you can run it through the food processor and make a simple paste.
Apple Cider Vinegar Can Extract Some Poison Ivy
My grandmother swears by apple cider vinegar for most ailments! Try soaking a brown paper bag in the vinegar, then place directly on the rash to aid in pulling out the toxins with this home remedy for poison ivy.
Add Baking Soda for Poison Ivy Relief
Baking soda is not just for making cakes! When coming in contact with poison ivy, try soaking in a cool bath with 1 cup of baking soda for some relief.
Aloe Vera for Poison Ivy
Aloe vera can help with any burning associated with the rash. Apply the gel directly from the plant to the skin!
Lemon Juice Can Cut Poison Ivy Oil
If you know fairly quickly you have come in contact with poison ivy, apply lemon juice to help cut through the toxic oils before they seep into your skin with this home remedy for poison ivy!
For More Serious Cases of Poison Ivy, Don't Wait—Visit a Dermatology Clinic!
These remedies are good go-to’s for mild cases, however if you are one of the unlucky bunch that catch a severe case of poison ivy, schedule an appointment to see a dermatologist for poison ivy treatment. Some cases require a prescription medication such as a steroid and in some cases of infection, an antibiotic is also needed for poison ivy treatment.
We are accepting new patients at DermaBlue Dermatology in Asheville, NC, and can likely get you in day of if needed! Contact us today to schedule.