Poison Ivy Remedies
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Poison Ivy
Herbal & Home Remedies Herbal Remedies Home Remedies

Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac are plants that can cause a skin rash called allergic contact dermatitis when they touch your skin.

The red, uncomfortable, and itchy rash often shows up in lines or streaks and is marked by fluid-filled bumps (blisters) or large raised areas (hives). It is the most common skin problem caused by contact with plants (plant dermatitis).

Types:

Poison OakPoison oak

Poison oak has leaves that look like oak leaves, usually with three leaflets but sometimes up to seven leaflets per leaf group.

It grows as a vine or a shrub. Poison oak is rare in Canada, and is confined to remote areas on the east coast of Vancouver Island and some neighbouring islands.

 

Posion SumakPoison sumac

Poison sumac has 7 to 13 leaflets per leaf stem. The leaves have smooth edges and pointed tips.

Poison sumac grows as a shrub or small tree.

It is found in wooded, swampy areas, such as southern Ontario and southern Quebec, and in wet, wooded areas in the northern United States.

 

Poison IvyPoison ivy

Poison ivy usually has three broad, spoon-shaped leaves or leaflets ("Leaves of three? Let it be!"), but it can have more.

It may grow as a climbing or low, spreading vine that sprawls through grass (more common in southeastern Canada) or as a shrub (more common throughout Canada, especially the Great Lakes region).

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Symptoms

The usual symptoms of the rash are:

  • Itchy skin where the plant touched your skin.
  • Red streaks or general redness where the plant brushed against the skin.
  • Small bumps or larger raised areas (hives).
  • Blisters filled with fluid that may leak out.

The rash usually appears 8 to 48 hours after your contact with the urushiol. But it can occur from 5 hours to 15 days after touching the plant. The rash usually takes more than a week to show up the first time you get urushiol on your skin. But the rash develops much more quickly (within 1 to 2 days) after later contacts. The rash will continue to develop in new areas over several days but only on the parts of your skin that had contact with the urushiol or those parts where the urushiol was spread by touching.

The rash is not contagious. You cannot catch or spread a rash after it appears, even if you touch it or the blister fluid, because the urushiol will already be absorbed or washed off the skin. The rash may seem to be spreading, but either it is still developing from earlier contact or you have touched something that still has urushiol on it.

The more urushiol you come in contact with, the more severe your skin reaction. Severe reactions to smaller amounts of urushiol also may develop in people who are highly sensitive to urushiol. Serious symptoms may include:

  • Swelling of the face, mouth, neck, genitals, or eyelids (which may prevent the eyes from opening).
  • Widespread, large blisters that ooze large amounts of fluid.

Without treatment, the rash usually lasts about 10 days to 3 weeks. But in people who are very sensitive to urushiol, the rash may take up to 6 weeks to heal.

 

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Causes

 

The rash is caused by contact with an oil (urushiol) found in poison ivy, oak, or sumac.

The oil is present in all parts of the plants, including the leaves, stems, flowers, berries, and roots. Urushiol is an allergen, so the rash is actually an allergic reaction to the oil in these plants.

Indirect contact with urushiol can also cause the rash. This may happen when you touch clothing, pet fur, sporting gear, gardening tools, or other objects that have come in contact with one of these plants. But urushiol does not cause a rash on everyone who gets it on his or her skin.

 

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Home Remedies

If you know you had contact with one of these plants, immediately wash areas of the skin that may have touched the plant. Sometimes the rash can be completely avoided by washing the affected areas with plenty of water within 10 or 15 minutes of contact.

To relieve itching and help dry blisters, apply wet compresses or soak the area in cool water. Antihistamine pills or calamine lotion may help relieve symptoms.

Oatmeal - Simply boil up the oatmeal in water as you normally would. Let it cool for a few minutes, then apply warm to the effected area, Ideally, the mixture should be applied until a thick layer forms. It will harden as it dries. Most sufferers swear by this treatment, which is sometimes combined with a tablespoon or two of baking soda for extra relief from itch and oozing.

Baking soda - This treatment has also become a classic homemade cure, made by mixing 3 teaspoons of baking soda with 1 teaspoon of water until a thick paste forms. Apply to the rash and let dry. Another tried-and-true method for many poison ivy sufferers is full immersion in a soothing baking soda bath

Banana peel - Touted by many as a homemade "miracle cure", the inside of a banana peel rubbed on poison ivy rashes seems to bring instant, cooling relief. By some accounts, banana skins may even do the trick when all other poison ivy treatment fails.

Dishwashing liquid - Perhaps the most practical treatment of all, dishwashing liquid's anti-grease agents make it a common-sense remedy for poison ivy when applied liberally from the bottle at full strength. Simply wash off with cool water.

If you have suggestions or know of a proven home remedy add it here in the comment area.

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Herbal Remedies

Aloe Vera gel - A logical alternative, aloe vera is known to heal minor skin cuts and bring relief from sunburn, so apply liberally to effected areas to help sooth the itch and aid in healing.

Jewelweed - Pick a bunch, crush it, and rub it on exposed parts of your body that might come in contact or have already come in contact with poison ivy. It is a juicy plant or collect a bunch of jewelweed and make a tea. That is, bring a pot of water to a boil (4 cups or so), put the jewelweed in (chop a large handful), and let it sit for 20 minutes. Then strain it out. You can bath in this tea.

If you have suggestions or know of a proven herbal remedy add it here in the comment area.

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Wellness & Prevention

When walking through wooded areas make sure you know what the types of poison plants in the area are. You can ask the tourist info areas or your local merchants. Make sure you have pictures of the various vegetation so you don't become victim to the affects of poisonous plants.

Don't wear short pants or short sleeves when outing into nature. Cover your body to protect yourself when exploring the forests or wooded areas.

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