“Leaves of three, let it be.” It is absolutely true that poison ivy ALWAYS comes in “leaves of three,” but so do many other common plants. It has been hard to avoid poison ivy in the park this summer, how do you deal with it? What is it? Poison ivy, oak and sumac belong to a […]
“Leaves of three, let it be.” It is absolutely true that poison ivy ALWAYS comes in “leaves of three,” but so do many other common plants. It has been hard to avoid poison ivy in the park this summer, how do you deal with it?
What is it? Poison ivy, oak and sumac belong to a family of plants that produce one of the most common allergic reactions in the United States. Experts estimate that up to 70 percent of the population is allergic to urushiol, the oil found in the sap of these plants.
The reaction, known as “urushiol-induced allergic contact dermatitis,” occurs when urushiol attaches itself to the skin after a person’s direct or indirect exposure to the oil. Symptoms like rashes, oozing blisters, itching and swelling are the body’s way of telling you that you are having an allergic reaction.
Signs and symtoms of exposure: An allergic reaction to poison ivy, oak and sumac is quite intense and far more common than any other cause of an allergic skin reaction. Signs and symptoms include redness, swelling, warmth, blistering, tenderness and itching.
What do if you’ve been exposed:
- Cleanse: Immediately wash with plain soap and water. Urushiol will bind to the skin within five minutes to two hours after exposure.
- Decontaminate: Remove and wash all clothing, shoes and shoelaces that may have come in contact with the oil.
- Relieve: Removing urushiol is the most important step in eliminating the reaction.
- Don’t scratch: Scratching may cause infection because it allows bacteria from dirt on the hands to enter the skin. Scratching and popping blisters will not spread the oil or rash, but may cause scarring.
- See your healthcare provider: If symtoms worsen.
How to prevent:
- Know what to look for and educate yourself
- Wear protective clothing
- Wash outdoor items frequently
- Do not burn any suspicious plants
- Stop the symptoms before they start
NOTE: Information from www.zanfel.com website and broshure.