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Poison ivy is a highly variable plant that can grow as a small plant, a shrub, or a climbing vine. It is commonly characterised by clusters of leaves, each containing three leaflets, hence the common expression “leaves of three, let it be” These leaves can vary between an elliptic to egg shape and will have either smooth, lobed, or toothed margins. Additionally, the leaf clusters are alternate on the stem. Clusters of small, greenish flowers bloom from May to July and produce white berries in the fall a few millimeters in diameter.


Poison Ivy Symptoms

Poison ivy symptoms usually appear within 24-48 hours of exposure. You may be able to limit the symptoms if you wash the affected area immediately with soap and cool water.  Do not use warm water; it can cause the urushiol oil to penetrate the skin faster.

  • The first poison ivy symptom is red inflamed skin, which is very itchy. After a while blisters will form.
  • Some people will develop a fever.
  • In severe cases, the blisters may ooze.
  • Less common and more severe symptoms include swelling in the throat, dizziness, or difficulty breathing. If you have a severe reaction, you should consult with a doctor.

You cannot catch poison ivy from another person. The only way to get poison ivy is by being exposed to urushiol.


To prevent poison ivy rash, follow these tips:

  • Avoid the plants.Learn how to identify poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac in all seasons. When hiking or engaging in other activities that might expose you to these plants, try to stay on cleared pathways. Wear socks, pants and long sleeves when outdoors. If camping, make sure you pitch your tent in an area free of these plants.

Keep pets from running through wooded areas so that urushiol doesn’t stick to their fur, which you then may touch.

  • Wear protective clothing.If needed, protect your skin by wearing socks, boots, pants, long sleeves and heavy gloves.
  • Remove or kill the plants.Identify and remove poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac from your yard or garden. You can get rid of such plants by applying an herbicide or pulling them out of the ground, including the roots, while wearing heavy gloves. Afterward remove the gloves carefully and wash them and your hands. Don’t burn poison ivy or related plants because the smoke can carry the urushiol.
  • Wash your skin or your pet’s fur.Within 30 minutes after exposure to urushiol, use soap and water to gently wash off the harmful resin from your skin. Scrub under your fingernails too. Even washing after an hour or so can help reduce the severity of the rash. If you think your pet may be contaminated with urushiol, put on some long rubber gloves and give your pet a bath.
  • Clean contaminated objects.If you think you’ve come into contact with poison ivy, wash your clothing promptly in warm soapy water — ideally in a washing machine. Handle contaminated clothing carefully so that you don’t transfer the urushiol to yourself, furniture, rugs or appliances. Also wash as soon as possible any other items that came in contact with the plant oil — such as outdoor gear, garden tools, jewellery, shoes and even shoelaces. Urushiol can remain potent for years. So if you put away a contaminated jacket without washing it and take it out a year later, the oil on the jacket may still cause a rash.
  • Apply a barrier cream.Try over-the-counter skin products that are intended to act as a barrier between your skin and the oily resin that causes poison ivy rash.


The rash from poison ivy

For a minor rash, either try to ignore it or see what the drug store has to offer. Many find relief from zanfel.

For a large, or a fluid filled rash, you should see a dermatologist. Remember: the rash is an ALLERGIC reaction, not an infection. But if the skin opened, it can become an infection. Family physicians can help you avoid this.

For anything around the eyes or in other very sensitive areas we suggest getting right to the emergency room or medical clinic even if you’re otherwise in good health.


For very bad cases, Prednisone is prescribed, but we are advised that you must take the entire prescription and not stop if the rash eases up.

Even though the rash is an allergic reaction, Benedryl is, for some reason, not that effective. But you can try it.

The poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac rash is about the itchiest thing most people ever experience. Some have said that a very hot shower will stop the itching long enough to sleep for a while. Some say that aluminum deodorant or an oatmeal bath eases the rash. A home remedy such as these seems fairly harmless as long as you don’t use water so hot you burn your skin.

You can also try soaking in an oatmeal bath and applying calamine lotion or a paste made from baking soda and water if the rash isn’t too severe. Other over-the-counter products may work.

Some people have had luck with soaking a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar and applying it to the rash 3-4 times a day.

Normally, the rash lasts for 2 – 3 weeks, depending on the severity and whether you get medical

Immediate washing with soap and cold water or rubbing alcohol may help prevent a reaction. During a reaction, Cor diphenhydramine may help mitigate symptoms. Corticosteroids, either applied to the skin or taken by mouth, may be appropriate in extreme cases. An astringent containing aluminum acetate (such as burrow’s solution) may also provide relief and soothe the uncomfortable symptoms of the rash.