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Poison Ivy


You’ve probably heard the saying; “trees of 3, let it be,” which revolves around poison ivy plants. It’s something you should always remember when messing around in the woods or hiking throughout any area.

However, there are several plants with three-leaf patterns, so the saying doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a poison ivy plant. The information here today will help you decipher the difference; tell you how long it lasts, the various symptoms, and a variety of other information.

What is Poison Ivy?

Just like poison oak, urushiol can be found in poison ivy plants, vines, trees, and roots. When the body touches the urushiol oil, it becomes absorbed in the skin and creates the rash. Understanding how a person can come in contact with the poison ivy is very important. One thing you definitely don’t want to do is pull the poison ivy plants out of the ground.

We understand there are a lot of individuals that want to remove the poison ivy from their living space, but you have to take the necessary precautions before getting started. Outside of direct contact, there are other ways to end up with poison ivy:

Pet Contact – If you have a dog and they play in the backyard where poison ivy is present, it’s possible for them to get the oil on their coat of hair. All it takes is one pet for you to have the oil on your hands and then touch any part of your body.

Oil on Other Items – It’s possible to end up with poison ivy because the urushiol oil is on your clothes, a backpack while hiking, your shoes, or anything else that is present. You have to wash anything that has come in contact with poison ivy plants, because it can stay on them for a year or longer.

Don’t Burn the Leaves – One of the first things homeowners want to do with leaves in their backyard is burn them. If you have any poison ivy leaves mixed in, it’s possible for you to end up with a severe rash all over your body. It’s possible to inhale the smoke where the oils are present, which turns into a horrible situation.

The Poison Ivy Experience

How do you know if you have poison ivy? Well, it all starts with the itching before you even see the rash. You might scratch a small area that seems like nothing, but after awhile it becomes worse. The more areas you’re dealing with, the harder it is going to be to deal with the situation. Everyone has a different experience, but as soon as you start itching, it’s a good idea to go take a cold shower.

A cold shower allows the body to close the skin’s pores. This keeps any additional urushiol oil from entering the body and allows it to be washed off. Never take a hot shower when you’re cleaning up after being around poison ivy. Even though some of the oil will be washed away, open pores gives the urushiol the opportunity to seep in to the body.

How Long does Poison Ivy Last?

It really depends on the severity of the issue as to how long your poison ivy will last. We’ve seen minor issues lasts about a week, but more severe cases stretch out to as far as a month. Also, how you deal with it will affect the overall timeline as well. For instance, if you don’t use any type of treatment or remedy, the poison ivy is going to last longer. This also is true if you take a hot shower when first coming contact with the poison ivy.

How to Treat Poison Ivy

There are several ways to treat poison ivy, especially when you consider all the home remedy options. However, we believe there is a difference between the two, so we want to make sure they are separated. Treatments are something you obtain from your family physician or dermatologist. Probably the most popular choice is getting a prescription for prednisone. It’s a steroid that is used to help both poison ivy and poison oak.

Here are a few other ways a doctor might recommend as a treatment option:

Cold Compressions – Even though a cold compression isn’t going to heal the poison ivy blisters, it can relieve some of the itchiness for a short period of time. Plus, this might not be the best answer for someone that has blisters all over their body. We like to think something like this is best used when you have an isolated incident.

Oatmeal Bath – It sounds more like a home remedy, but this is a way to curb the itching for a short period of time. Once you already have the oil in your skin and a rash has developed, an oatmeal bath has the properties to help with the itchiness. However, once you’re done, be sure to dry yourself gently. If you don’t, the itching will get worse and it will have been a complete waste of time.

Allergy Shots – There are certain allergy shots that are geared for poison ivy. Since most people don’t come in contact with poison ivy very often, allergy shots are rarely used. The individuals who do use them are the ones that have an extreme reaction with any type of contact.

Calamine Lotion – This has been a treatment of poison ivy for decades, but it doesn’t seem to have the beneficial traits as other options. Sure, in the 1980s it was one of the primary treatments, because the world wasn’t aware of some of the newer options today.

Poison Ivy Home Remedies

One of our favorites that has been used by several people is mixing vinegar and baking soda. It will have a consistency much like peanut butter, and you’re supposed to use it as a scrub for your blisters. Yes, you’re going to break the blisters, but these are mostly filled with water, so it won’t be anything you have to worry about in regards to an outbreak.

This is something we have personally used. It helps the infected area heal a lot faster, and the itching seems to go away almost instantaneously. However, it’s possible for the itching to return after a few hours of time. The good news is; you won’t have to worry about dealing with your poison ivy nearly as long as you previously thought. Oh, don’t forget to add a little vinegar to your poison ivy after washing the area. It will give you additional help against that itchy feeling.

There are several other choices, but this one seems to work the best as a home remedy.

Poison Ivy Prevention

The most important thing you should take away from this article is how to prevent poison ivy outbreaks to happen again. Each one of these solutions have been extremely helpful, even though they are not 100% guarantees. However, they do reduce the overall risk of getting poison ivy. Even if you do end up contracting it, the issue could be minor.

Here a few ways to reduce the chance of dealing with poison ivy outbreaks:

Cold Showers – Always take a cold shower after coming in contact with poison ivy. If you’re not sure if you’ve come in contact it, but there is an itchy sensation developing, take a shower anyways. It’s important for the water to be cold so your skin’s pores will close. The only reason you end up with poison ivy is because the urushiol oil gets into your skin. Hot water keeps the pores open, so you definitely don’t want to take a hot shower.

Washing Clothes, Tools, Etc. – Anytime you have items around poison ivy, be sure to wash them in rubbing alcohol. Granted, if we’re talking about shoes or boots, putting them in the washer will be better. Things like tools, sticks, plastic, and other items can be wiped down with alcohol and it will remove the urushiol oil.

All clothes should be washed in hot water immediately after coming in from outside. Since someone else in the house can end up with poison ivy if they pick up your clothes, it’s a good safety measure to consider.

Give Your Dog/Cat a Bath – If you have pets that are around poison ivy, it’s important to bathe them as soon as they come inside. Again; you want to make sure it’s cold water, because you don’t need to give your arms the opportunity to absorb the oil. Keep in mind; animals cannot get poison ivy, so that is not what your concern is here. It’s about keeping everyone else in the household from ending up with poison ivy.

Remember; poison ivy has a three-leaf pattern. It changes colors throughout the year, so be sure to keep an eye out for those zig-zag edges. We highly recommend learning about the different colors, especially if you are around poison ivy several times a year. It will reduce the risk of getting poison ivy.