If you have experienced the wrath of poison ivy rashes, you will know how discomforting they can be, to say the least. But for those of you who don’t know, the rash is a symptom of an allergic reaction to the urushiol found in the resin of the plant. Medically speaking, this type of skin irritation is called allergic contact dermatitis. It is therefore of the utmost importance that you are able to identify the plant and avoid it at all costs. If this fails, and you fall victim to the poison ivy and the rashes which it causes, you need to be able to deal with it in a calm manner, so that you do not place further stress on your body and immune system.
Identifying a Poison Ivy Rash Appearance and Symptoms
You will most likely not even realize that you have been affected by poison ivy until well after the initial exposure to the plant. When you are made aware you will most likely present with the following symptoms:
- An intensely itchy rash
- Red bumps that often are in a straight line or streaks, from where the poison ivy plant had contact with your skin
- Vesicles and blisters that are filled with fluid
Poison ivy rashes will gradually worsen over time without treatment, so you need to make sure that you seek adequate treatment as early on as possible. Even if you are not convinced that it is poison ivy that has caused the rash on your skin, it is better to be safe than sorry, especially if this is the first time that you are affected by this infamous plant.
Another indicator that your rashes are in fact poison ivy rashes rather than other environmental or bodily factors is if the symptoms do not disappear three weeks after exposure (in cases where the rash is not being treated). This is a sure sign that you have poison ivy poisoning. This may seem an unlikely situation, as the discomfort of the symptoms brought on by the toxins will usually be experienced soon after contact, well before the three weeks have elapsed. Nevertheless, some people do have much higher pain thresholds than others, and not everyone reacts in the same way when faced with this allergic reaction.
After your very first unfortunate encounter with this plant, you may find that your symptoms get worse and worse every time that you are exposed to the plant from there on out, which hopefully will not be a great number of times if you follow our advice. It is therefore especially important that you avoid poison ivy after that initial exposure in order to prevent even worse symptoms the next time you come into contact with the plant.
Another characteristic of a poison ivy rash is that some areas of your skin that initially had less exposure to the plant may develop the rash later than other areas of your skin, so don’t be surprised if you wake up one morning with new blisters on a different part of your body. This is considered to be normal, and you can simply make use of the same treatment methods as you did for the previous blisters or rashes.
It is important to note that the progression and development of the poison ivy rash will differ from person to person. In some people it may start looking like a few small scratches or mosquito bites before it develops into a full blown rash, while other people may get the worst of the symptoms right from the onset. There is no way to know exactly how you will react to poison ivy, but you can be guaranteed that the symptoms will not be pleasant.
How to Deal With Poison Ivy Rashes
There are a few basic ways that you can deal with poison ivy rashes when they occur. We will discuss these treatment methods in more detail in this section of the article. The basic treatment methods include:
- Finding ways to dry out the skin. This is important because it will allow the blisters to develop scabs which will fall off naturally. This, in turn, will allow healthy skin to grow in its place.
- Treating with over-the-counter medications; creams, gels or oral medication
- Consulting your doctor in particularly severe situations
- Using home remedies
One of the most effective and most popular home remedies for a poison ivy rash is bathing in oatmeal, or converting it to a paste to apply to the skin. This is very helpful in drying out the rash and soothing the itchy burning sensation.
Another method that you will read more about involves taking a very hot shower. Make the water as hot as you can handle and stand under it for as long as you possibly can. Just be careful about making it too hot as this may cause you to damage your skin in other ways. Be sensible, while at the same time using a temperature that will actually make a difference to the blisters on your skin.
Most importantly, do not scratch. Scratching poison ivy rashes could break or tear the skin and allow bacteria in, or it could leave you scarred. If the rashes are present on your face, it is best to seek medical attention, as the facial skin is very sensitive and you do not want it to spread to your eyes. If your case is severe enough, a doctor may prescribe steroids which could be taken orally or through an injection. Do not let this deter you, though, because a pinprick from an injection will be minimal compared to the pain you may suffer if you leave a severe case untreated.