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Poison Ivy

The rash from poi­son ivy is due to a skin aller­gy to an oily sub­stance called urush­i­ol found through­out the whole plant. If you are aller­gic to poi­son ivy, you will get an itchy, red rash with lit­tle blis­ters (a type of eczema). After you touch the plant, the rash may not come for a day or two lat­er. Sum­mer time is the most com­mon time to get poi­son ivy because you are out play­ing and work­ing in the yard.

Did you know?

  • Not every­one is aller­gic to poi­son ivy. If you are aller­gic, it’s the sec­ond time you touch the plant (and every time after) that you will get the rash.
  • You can get the aller­gic rash from poi­son ivy in the win­ter if you touch the stalks or roots
  • You can get a sim­i­lar aller­gic rash to many oth­er plants
  • Poi­son ivy has two broth­ers” that live in oth­er parts of the coun­try- poi­son oak (on the west coast and in the south) and poi­son sumac (on the east coast). 
  • The poi­son ivy oil, urush­i­ol, is found in oth­er things too such as the skin of a man­go and in the shell of a cashew nut
  • The poi­son ivy oil can fly through the air if the plant is thrown into the fire

How to avoid poi­son ivy:

Avoid the plant. Learn what poi­son ivy looks like: 

  • The leaves are arranged in groups of three on a stalk – Leaves of three, let them be!” 
  • It’s a plant that forms vines
  • It can grow on the ground or up trees and fence posts
  • It can be green in the sum­mer and red, yel­low or orange in the fall
  • It can have lit­tle berries in the summer

Your pets can bring in the poi­son ivy oil on their fur so make sure they are not in con­tact with the plants either.

What to do if you get poi­son ivy:

  • Wash the skin imme­di­ate­ly after you come into con­tact with the plant with soap and water. You only have about 10 min­utes to remove the oil off the skin before it gives you a rash the next day! 
  • Cool com­press­es and over the counter hydro­cor­ti­sone cream can be helpful
  • Try not to scratch!
  • The rash can last up to 3 weeks

See your der­ma­tol­o­gist for pre­scrip­tion med­ica­tions if the rash is very uncom­fort­able or wor­ri­some looking.