When one thinks of poison ivy, all they can thing about is a horrible rash. Here are ten facts about the poison ivy plant, and the rash that it causes.
Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) is a plant that contains the oil urushiol. Contact with this oil is what can cause the itchy rash people contract. The rash is considered to be contact dermatitis. The rash is usually very itchy and uncomfortable.
Urushiol is an allergen. The rash that occurs from touching a poison ivy plant is an allergic reaction to the oil. In an allergic reaction, the immune system is sensitive to the allergen. The body goes into overreaction mode, and tries to fight off the offender. With poison ivy, it creates the rash.
You can not be allergic to poison ivy until you have come in contact with the oil of urushiol. The contact can be direct, or through indirect methods. Direct contact would be by touching the plant. Indirect contact would be if your clothes have touched it, and then you touch your clothes. You can also come in indirect contact by touching tools, such as clippers, that have come in contact with the poison ivy plant.
Poison Ivy Rash
Poison ivy rashes tend to develop within a few hours to two days. The rash can take as long as two weeks to appear. During the first contact, the poison ivy rash can take about a week to develop. Later contacts with urushiol usually develops in just a couple of days.
Poison ivy rash normally lasts about 10 days. It can however last up to three weeks in some individuals.
While most people do not get severe cases of poison ivy, there have been severe cases that have lasted over two months. Always seek proper medical attention if rash does not heal in 10-14 days.
The poison ivy rash is not contagious to anyone. You can not spread the rash after it appears on your skin. Even when touched, it can not be spread to other parts of the body. The urushiol oil has already been absorbed into the skin. If it appears later on a different part to the body, it is only because the rash is either still developing, or something has been touched that still has the oil on it. In fact, if your clothes touch poison ivy one summer, it can live on your clothes all winter, and you can contract it the following summer. The same goes for garden tools.
Sensitivity to poison ivy depends on age, extent of contact, and your immune system function. Some studies have shown that the allergy to poison ivy can be an inherited factor. Some are not allergic to poison ivy, and even with contact, will not get a rash.
Poison ivy normally does not cause complications in healthy people. Complications that can occur may include bacterial infections from scratching the area.
Jewelweed is a natural antidote or remedy for poison ivy. It normally grows near by the poison ivy plant, and is nature’s remedy. The jewelweed plant can be made into a salve, or infusion to help heal the rash.
How To Control Poison Ivy Rash
If you come into contact with poison ivy, and develop a rash, you will want to be careful on how you take care of it. Most rashes can be easily taken care of at home.
After coming into contact with the plant, rinse the area well with warm, slightly soapy water. A castile soap works well for this.
Pat dry with a soft cotton towel. Do not rub it dry, as this can open the sores.
Place a clay on the area. Red clay works well. The clay helps to bring out the toxins and speed healing.
To make a clay poultice: Add 1 Tbsp clay to water. Make a smooth paste. Gently spread over the rash area. Leave on for 15 minutes. When dry, let it flake off naturally. What doesn’t flake off, you can rinse off with warm water. Pat dry.
Apply an anti-itch lotion or ointment to the poison ivy rash. Allow to dry.
If area becomes infected, or rash becomes serious, see a doctor.
Poison ivy does not spread as most people think, but it can be a horrible experience if not taken care of.