What is poison ivy?


Know the basics

What is poison ivy?

Ivy is a shrub that can cause severe skin irritation (contact dermatitis). The allergic reaction occurs because of a resin called urushiol in leaves, stems and roots. Affected skin may be dry, red or burn. If trees are burned, smelling the smoke of burned trees can affect your lungs.

How common is poison ivy?

Person who contact with toxic of tree or on the skin of people with arthritis will have allergy risk for poison ivy. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of poison ivy?

If you are allergic to ivy poison, the main symptoms are rash, blisters. Symptoms usually last for several days or even weeks. Other symptoms include itching and mild pain. In addition, you’ll have trouble breathing if inhaled poisonous fumes from the ivy burned.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • The rash spread to eyes, mouth or genitals;
  • swollen skin;
  • Acne discharge;
  • High fever over 38 degrees.

Know the causes

What causes poison ivy?

Contact with any part of tree or oil of ivy (resin) can cause allergies. Direct contact can include touching the plant or indirect touching something sticking resin. Resin also stick on clothing, furs, widgets which can remain toxic for a long time and can lead to rashes.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for poison ivy?

There are many risk factors for poison ivy, such as:

  • Farmer;
  • Ranger;
  • Gardener;
  • Fireman;
  • Construction worker;
  • Employees installing cable or phone line.

Also, if you go camping, fishing or traveling to the strange area, you also have a high risk of poison ivy.

There are no risk factors not meaning you cannot get sick. These signs are for reference only. You should consult a specialist doctor for more details.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is poison ivy diagnosed?

Usually you do not need to go to doctor or hospital to be diagnosed because this rash will go away. However, in some cases, doctor will diagnose dermatitis by observing and skin test.

How is poison ivy treated?

The best cure is to avoid ivy poison. Learn to identify the tree and avoid contact as much as possible. Wearing gloves, long sleeved shirts and long pants when going outdoor or gardening will prevent contact with ivy.

Typically, rash will usually go away within 2 to 3 weeks. If rash continues to spread, doctor will prescribe medication corticosteroid (prednisone). If rash or blisters cause infection, doctors will prescribe antibiotics. In addition, anti-itch cream such as calamine leather and soap containing oatmeal can soothe burns caused by blistering rash. In extreme cases, if rash spreads (spreads to face or genitals), you will be injected or prescribed with steroids to relieve symptoms.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage poison ivy?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with poison ivy:

  • Take prescribed steroids every day. Oral medications are antihistamines may be used when necessary and may be discontinued when itch is over.
  • Apply steroid ointment and cream to dry skin, clean. Dosage should follow the instructions of your doctor.
  • Use anti-itch solution as needed, but avoid using in the first hour after using steroid cream or ointment due to steroid need time to be infused.
  • Call for a doctor when fever, vomiting, diarrhea or rash gets worse despite treatment, or a new rash.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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