A poison ivy rash comes from the beneficial plant for other plants since it plays an important role in the food chain within the wild. However, it is one of the avoided plants due to its dangerous effects not only on the skin but also to other parts of the body. The effects can start as a rash and spread throughout the body if not treated right away.
Poison ivy rash is one of the common allergic reactions affecting nearly 85 percent of the population according to Weill Cornell Medical College. It is known as the Urishiol-induced contact dermatitis that can cause mild to fatal effects on the person exposed to the oil and resin produced by the poison ivy plant.
A clear fluid called Urushiol is contained under the poison ivy’s outer covering and when the plant is damaged or injured it is excreted out together with other chemicals in the form of sap. And when an object, either be it a clothing or a tool, comes in contact with it, the sap adheres and remains on it. Smoke inhaled from burned poison ivy can also cause rash on the linings of the lungs.
If a person comes in contact with the Urushiol, the oil attaches on the skin and acts as a hapten, binding and reacting with the proteins on the skin cells triggering the immune responses of the body to attack cells thus causing allergic reactions.
Urushiol can be transferred from one object to another and remain active for many years which can cause future reactions when it gets contact with someone who have strong responses with the oil.
A person affected with Urushiol experience severe itching which can develop to red colored inflammation and blister when not treated immediately. The itching can also develop into rash which can spread rapidly within 24 hours depending on how severe is the effects of the oil. But in extreme cases the allergic reaction can result to anaphylaxis depending on its rigorousness and treatment given.
The smoke of the burned poison ivy affects the lining of the lungs when it is inhaled, causing tremendous pain which can become lethal due to difficulty in breathing.
The effects of poison ivy can be distinguished immediately due to the following signs and symptoms:
- Extreme itching
- Appearances of papules
Rash develops within 12 to 48 hours and last for 1 to 3 weeks. While other reactions, like damages to the mucosal linings and the digestive tract due to swallowed oil and resin, within the body can last from 1 to 4 weeks.
Effects of poison ivy cannot be cured ones it had started however, there are several treatments which you can do in order to decrease the itching and burning sensations caused by the oily substance called Urushiol
- As an immediate treatment, wash affected area with cold water and soap to remove attached plant oil as well as to ease burning sensation.
- When you get home, take a shower using over-the-counter products like oatmeal soap or you can use baking soda. This will help relieve itching.
- Wash clothes as well as tools with soap and water then soak it on bleach solutions in order to remove oils that have remained on them.
- Buy creams and lotions like hydrocortisone and Calamine and apply them on affected areas to lessen itching and prevent blistering.
- You can also take medicines like antihistamines in case the itching worsens.
- Damp cold water from time to time on areas affected with oil to help decrease itching.
- In case of severe effects, go to the nearest doctor in order to provide you the proper treatment or medication you need.
You can prevent acquiring allergic reactions caused by poison ivy following the different preventive measures written below.
- Learn to identify and differentiate a poison ivy from other plants. By doing so, you can distinguish and avoid these plants.
- If there are any poison ivy plants growing in your garden, remove them.
- Bathe your pets daily in order to remove any resins that attached to their fur.
- When walking in areas with poison ivy or other plants causing allergic reactions, it is essential to wear long sleeves or jacket, long jeans, and socks. This will help protect you from any direct adherence of the plant oil.
- There are some lotions and creams in the market which you can buy. Apply it before going out of your home.
- Do not burn poison ivy as well as other plants that can cause allergic reaction. The resins contained by the plant can be carried by the wind and there is a possibility you or other people can inhale it.
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