Poison ivy … Overcoming poisonous ivy and its cousins
What is poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac? What can you do to avoid poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac? How can you deal with the rash? How to identify poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac
What is poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac?
Summer is upon us and so are those unpleasant eruptions of brushing against poisonous plants like poison ivy, poison oak and sumac. Approximately 85 percent of the population will develop an allergic reaction if exposed to poison ivy, oak or sumac, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
In general, people develop a sensitivity to poison ivy, oak or sumac only after several encounters with plants, sometimes for many years. However, sensitivity may occur after a single exposure.
The cause of the infamous rash, blisters and itching is urushiol (pronounced oo-roo-shee-ohl), a chemical in the sap of poisonous ivy, oak and sumac plants. Because the urushiol is inside the plant, brushing against an intact plant will not cause a reaction. But undamaged plants are rare.
Poison oak, ivy and sumac are very fragile plants, and stems or leaves broken by wind or animals, and even small holes made by chewing insects, can release urushiol.
The reactions, treatments and preventive measures are the same for the three poisonous plants. Avoiding direct contact with plants reduces the risk but does not guarantee a reaction. The urushiol can adhere to pets, garden tools, balls or anything that comes in contact. If the urushiol does not wash with those objects or animals, just touching them, for example, lifting a ball or petting a dog, could cause a reaction in a susceptible person. (Animals, except for a few higher primates, are not sensitive to urushiol).
The urushiol that is released from the plants on other things can remain powerful for years, depending on the environment. If the contaminated object is in a dry environment, the potency of urushiol can last for decades, says Epstein. Even if the environment is hot and humid, urushiol could cause a reaction a year later.
Almost all parts of the body are vulnerable to sticky urushiol, producing characteristic linear rash (in a line). Because urushiol must penetrate the skin to cause a reaction, places where the skin is thick, such as the soles of the feet and the palms of the hands, are less sensitive to the sap than areas where the skin is more thin. The severity of the reaction may also depend on the dose of urushiol the person received.
What can you do to avoid poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac?
Learn how poison ivy is and avoid it. While "sheets of three, be careful with me, it's the old saying," booklets of three, be careful of me "is even better because each sheet has three smaller booklets.
Wash garden tools regularly, especially if there is the least chance that they will come into contact with poison ivy. If you know you are going to work around poison ivy, wear long pants, long sleeves, boots and gloves.
Hikers, emergency workers and others who have difficulty in avoiding poison ivy can benefit from a product called Ivy Block, manufactured by EnviroDerm Pharmaceuticals Inc. It is the only product approved by the FDA to prevent poisonous ivy eruptions, oak or the sumac. The over-the-counter lotion contains bentoquatam, a substance that forms a coating similar to clay on the skin.
If you come in contact with poison ivy, oak or sumac, wash the skin with cold water as soon as possible to prevent the spread of urishiol. If you have a rash, oatmeal baths and calamine lotion can dry blisters and relieve itching. You can also talk to a health professional about medications that can help.
How can you deal with the rash?
If you do not clean quickly enough, or if your skin is so sensitive that cleaning did not help, the redness and swelling will appear in approximately 12 to 48 hours. The blisters and itching will follow. For those rare people who react after their first exposure, the rash appears after seven to 10 days.
Because they do not contain urushiol, the blisters that ooze out are not contagious nor can the liquid cause further spread in the body of the affected person. However, Epstein advises against scratching the blisters because the nails may have germs that could cause an infection.
The rash will only occur when the urushiol has touched the skin; It does not spread throughout the body. However, the rash seems to spread if it appears over time instead of all at once. This is because urushiol is absorbed at different speeds in different parts of the body or due to repeated exposure to contaminated objects or urushiol trapped under the nails.
The rash, blisters and itching usually go away in 14 to 20 days without any treatment. But few can manage the itch without some relief. For mild cases, wet compresses or soaking in cold water can be effective. Oral antihistamines can also relieve itching.
There are a number of over-the-counter products that help to dry blisters, including:
sodium bicarbonate aluminum acetate (Burrows' solution) Aveeno (oatmeal bath) aluminum hydroxide gel calamine kaolin zinc acetate zinc carbonate zinc oxide
How to identify poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac
Unfortunately, poison ivy, oak and sumac do not grow with small identification credentials around their stems, so you should know what to look for. To avoid these plants and their stinging consequences, this is what you should look for.
grows around lakes and streams in the Midwest and East, wooded, creeping, a shrub crawling on the ground, or an independent shrub, usually three leaflets (groups of leaves on the same small stem that leaves the main stem more large), but may vary from groups of three to nine leaves that are green in summer and red in autumn. Yellow or green flowers and white berries.
This (from New Jersey to Texas) grows like a low bush; the west (along the Pacific coast) grows to clusters of 6 feet tall or vines up to 30 feet long, like oak leaves, usually in groups of three groups of yellow berries
it grows in swampy areas, especially in the southeast shrub up to 15 feet tall, from seven to 13 bright pale yellow smooth-edged flakes or cream-colored berries
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