Poison-ivy is a plant that causes an irritation when it comes into contact with the skin. It is typically found at the edge of wooded areas, along creeks and in disturbed areas. In terms of appearance, its almond-shaped leaves, which have distinctive jagged edges, grow in groups of three.
Poison-ivy contains a resin (urushiol) that causes an allergic reaction in the vast majority of people who come into contact with it. It is the resin, found everywhere on the plant, that is responsible for causing irritations. Generally speaking, it takes between 24 and 48 hours after initial contact with the plant, for any reaction to develop.
SymptomsPoison-ivy causes contact dermatitis, which, simply put, is an inflammation of the skin. It typically causes redness, swelling and itchiness. Blistering may also occur and, in more severe cases, the person reacting to the poison-ivy may experience significant discomfort that can hinder daily functioning. Hands are most often affected since they generally come into contact with countless objects. No part of the body however, is immune. The inflammation generally disappears within 7 to 10 days.
Dermatitis can develop as a result of direct contact between the skin and the poison-ivy resin or through indirect contact. In fact, the resin responsible for the allergic reaction can be transferred from the plant to other objects such as pet fur, clothing and tools. The resin can remain active, and therefore harmful, for over a year.
If you touch poison-ivy, thoroughly wash your hands with cold water and a touch of soap, as quickly as possible. Although this will not prevent the allergic reaction from occurring, it will prevent it from spreading any further. It is also important to wash any clothing, tools or pets that may have come into contact with a plant in order to prevent further contamination.
Once the symptoms have appeared, apply cold compresses or calamine lotion to help dry out the sores and reduce itchiness. It is important not to itch the affected area. Hydrocortisone lotion can also be applied in an effort to help relieve the itch and promote healing. In the event where affected areas involve the face or the genitals, it is strongly recommended that you seek medical attention.
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