Poison Ivy

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Overview

Poison ivy is a plant, which comprises of an oily resin in its leaves and stems. The oily resin is called Urushiol. Urushiol is responsible for the production of a characteristic rash that manifests when a person’s skin comes in contact with poison ivy plant. This is an allergic reaction.

Causes

The rash is triggered by coming into contact with the urushiol in the poison ivy plant. That contact can occur by the following methods:

  • Brushing against a leaf while walking
  • Urushiol coming into contact with clothes or objects that later come into contact with your body
  • Inhalation of smoke coming from burning the plant
  • Directly touching the plant, ignorantly

Symptoms

The signs and symptoms that are associated with a poison ivy rash are:

  • Redness
  • Blisters
  • Swelling
  • Itching
  • Breathing difficulty (if smoke from burning poison ivy has been inhaled)

Diagnosis

No testing is needed, as the rash can be identified by a doctor just by looking at it.

If the rash is small, not much is done as it is self-limiting and goes away in 2-3 weeks. However; if the rash is widespread, leading to excessive blister formation, oral corticosteroids (Prednisolone) may be taken to limit the rash.

Treatment

Antibiotics are prescribed to prevent infection of the rash.

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