1. Poison Ivy may not appear in “leaves of three”: Most poison ivy and oak have three leaves, but there are varieties that are vine-like and are more difficult to recognize. Poison sumac can causes the same rash and has 7 to 13 leaves on a branch.
2 Uroshiol oil exposure should be removed in the first hour to avoid risk of a breakout: It is the uroshiol oil in the leaves that causes the rash and the oil is very difficult to remove. As soon as you know you have been exposed, use cool running water to rinse off the oil. After rinsing, use a degreasing soap or alcohol to again, remove any remaining oil in the contacted area. Use paper towels, thrown carefully away, to not re-contaminate your skin.
3. Uroshiol oil can live for 5 years on surfaces: Wash or throw away everything that has been exposed to poison ivy, even your shoe lashes! You must wear disposable gloves while washing the items. Garden tools, bottoms of shoes and sports equipment must be cleaned with alcohol, a degreasing soap such as Dawn or water and bleach. Pets must be bathed.
4. If you miss the first hour of removal, there are products that still may help: Removing oil from the skin may be accomplished using one of the products below. Follow the directions listed in terms of frequency of use and how long to leave on the skin.
Technu at http://www.teclabsinc.com/
Zanfel at http://www.zanfel.com/help/
Cortaid Poison Ivy Care Treatment Kit
Burts's Bees Poison Ivy Soap
Ivarest Medicated Itch Cream
5. Hot showers may relieve scratching. Some sources say to use cool showers or compresses while other state that the hot water can temporarily put a stop to severe itching. Try both to see! Other common remedies used are calamine lotion, topical steroids and oral or topical benadryl.
6. A poison ivy rash is not contagious to others, nor can it spread from blister opening and weeping fluid on surrounding skin. Remember, it is the oil that causes the reaction. New areas that breakout a few days after exposure are from skin contact in less sensitive areas, not from scratching.
7. Watch for blisters becoming infected, especially on the face near your eyes, mouth or genitals. Typically the rash will last one to three weeks and then clear, but if areas appear overly reddened, swollen, draining non-clear fluid or you feel feverish, it is best to see a doctor to evaluate your rash and decide if you need antibiotics or oral steroids.
8. Poison ivy can still cause a rash, even out of season. The main season for poison ivy is in the summer. However, even when the time the plant is dormant, the oil can still cause an allergic reaction and you can develop a reaction and rash.
9. A reaction to uroshiol can happen at any time: Even if you thought you were immune, up to 90% of people are allergic to uroshiol oil. Each time you are exposed, the likelihood of an allergic reaction increases. It may take a longer after an initial exposure, 7 to 10 days, to break out with a rash.
10. Ivy block can protect against poison ivy when you are ready to go outside again. Ivy guard is “the only FDA-approved product that’s clinically proven to help prevent poison oak, ivy and sumac rashes before they start.” If you know you will be working or hiking in a high-risk area you will want to protect yourself from another exposure. www.ivyblock.com
Make sure to learn what poison ivy looks like. Avoidance is the best prevention.
See photos here: http://www.poison-ivy.org/index.htm
Poison ivy: Tips for treating and preventing
Poison Ivy - Poison Ivy Treatment Guide
Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in woman’s healthcare and quality of care issues. Other articles by Michele are at www.helium.com/users/487540/show_articles
Edited by Shannon Koehle