How To Treat Poison Ivy Rashes
Poison ivy, western poison oak, and poison sumac all have an
oil in their leaves, vines and roots, called urushiol. The
oil is released when the plant is bruised. The oil is still
active even in dead plants.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology 85 per cent of people are sensitive to the oil.
Usually within 15 minutes of contact, the urushiol binds to
skin proteins. When you know you have been exposed wash
within 5 minutes with cold water to completely prevent a
reaction. If it is washed off with soap and water before
that time, a reaction may be prevented.
Washing within an hour will still reduce a reaction. And
for up to about 6 hours washing with alcohol may still help
remove some of the oil.
Approximately 24 to 36 hours after exposure an itchy rash
with blisters develops. Scratching the blisters doesn't
spread the rash. New lesions that appear are in areas less
sensitive or where less urushiol was contacted.
The rash can last as few as 5 days to as long as 6 weeks,
the average being two weeks.
If a rash develops, the blisters and red, itching skin may
be treated with calamine lotion, Epsom salts, or bicarbonate
of soda. For mild cases, wet compresses or soaking in cool
water may be effective. Hydrocortisone creams and oral
antihistamines can help relieve the itching. For severe
reactions see a doctor.
The oil can remain active on clothing and footwear for as
long as a year so be sure to wash clothing very well or
throw them away.
Urushiol can stick to pets, garden tools, balls, or anything
it comes in contact with. Pets should be bathed and the
urushiol should be wiped off of inanimate objects with
alcohol and water. Be sure to wear gloves or otherwise cover
your hands while doing this and then discard the hand
Urushiol that's rubbed off the plants onto other things can
remain potent for years. In a dry environment, the potency
of the urushiol can last for decades even up to 100 years.
An old folk remedy that is effective is rubbing the crushed
leaves of jewel weed to the exposed areas. Jewel weed
relieves the itching, stops the spread and helps to heal the
poison ivy rash. Jewel weed can sometimes be found growing
where poison ivy grows. A tea made from the leaves is said
to work as a preventative before exposure.
About the Author: Marilyn Pokorney
Freelance writer of science, nature, animals and the
Also loves crafts, gardening, and reading.
Website: http://www.apluswriting.net. For more information on preventing and curing poison ivy