What’s the Story with the Rash?

Part of living a healthy life is being active, and spending time outside offers multiple health benefits for all ages. Hiking, climbing trees, and spending time enjoying nature in the woods allow for an active lifestyle. However, there are a variety of things to be cautious about when spending time in the woods. There are multiple plants that can cause allergic reactions. The focus is week poison ivy. Read on to learn more about what causes it, how to know it becomes a serious concern, and how to prevent and treat it.

Healthy Tip Tuesday is brought to you in partnership with Trinity Health Systems.

What does poison ivy look like?

Found throughout the United. It can grow as a vine or small shrub trailing along the ground or climbing on low plants, trees, and poles. Each leaf has three glossy leaflets, with smooth or toothed edges. Leaves are reddish in spring, green in summer, and yellow, orange, or red in fall. The plant may have greenish-white flowers and whitish-yellow berries.

What is the poison ivy rash and what causes it?

Poison ivy rash is caused by an allergic reaction to an oily resin called urushiol (u-ROO-she-ol). This oily resin is in the leaves, stems, and roots of the plant. The rash can’t be spread from person to person. But it is possible to pick up the rash from plant oil that may have stuck to clothing, pets, etc. The rash will occur only where the plant oil has touched the skin. Therefore, it will not spread.

  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Swelling
  • Blisters
  • Difficulty breathing, if you’ve inhaled the smoke from burning poison ivy (seek emergency medical attention)
When to see a doctor:
  • The reaction is severe or widespread
  • The skin continues to swell
  • The rash affects the eyes, mouth, or private areas
  • Blisters are oozing pus
  • You develop a fever greater than 100 F
  • The rash doesn’t get better within a few weeks
How to treat it:
  • Calm the itch by using wet compresses or soaking in cool water.
  • Applying over-the-counter topical corticosteroids or taking prescription oral corticosteroids.
  • Apply calamine, baking soda paste, or colloidal oatmeal to relieve minor itching and oozing.
Prevent it before anyone gets it.
  • Learn to identify the plant and avoid it when out in the woods.
  • Wear protective clothing and wash them after being outside.
  • Remove and kill the plant if it is in your yard or garden. Apply herbicide or pull out the plant grabbing from the root while wearing thick gloves.
  • Wash your hands and skin with soap and cool water if you think you have come into contact with the plant

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