Poison ivy is quite common and there is a chance to cross paths with it while camping or hiking in the wilderness. Being able to identify the plant can prevent exposure and its undesirable effects.
The plant grows as a small-sized shrub with a trailing vine along the ground or clings to trees. The leaves of poison ivy are made up of 3-pointed leaf clusters with a glossy surface. The borders of these leaflets can be smooth or toothed. The leaves are green in summer but turns red, yellow or orange in spring and fall. The plant can also yield flowers that are greenish-yellow in color along with small, green berries that turn white in autumn.
The sap of poison ivy contains urushiol which is the irritant responsible for allergic reactions. Remember that direct exposure is not needed to experience a reaction. Urushiol can linger on garden tools and even shoes. If an individual brushes against the plant or any object that it came in contact with, it can trigger skin irritation.
Characteristic indications of poison ivy exposure
- Painful blisters
In most cases, the rash can take a long time to fully develop and can provide an illusion that it is spreading.
Exposure to urushiol from poison ivy can trigger an allergic reaction. Always remember that it is vital to prevent exposure to the plant. It is important to be ready when venturing to areas where the plant might be found. This involves covering the skin before gardening or engaging in other outdoor activities.
If the body could not be covered completely, apply a blocking cream. There are several varieties that protect the skin from absorbing urushiol which usually contain bentoquatam. This must be applied before going outdoors. In addition, bring the cream along while camping or hiking.
All items that came in contact with the plant must be carefully cleaned to prevent exposure later. Sporting equipment, gardening tools and camping supplies can pick up urushiol as well.
Remedies for poison ivy exposure
If an individual ends up with rash despite avoiding the plant, there are measures to carry out. The rash can be readily managed at home. Nevertheless, bring the individual to the nearest emergency department right away if he/she has severe symptoms such as rashes on the face or genitals, shortness of breath or rash covers a large area.
Wash the area immediately to help eliminate some of the oil and lessen the severity of the reaction. All clothes must be washed as well as other objects that were exposed to the plant.
You can also provide over-the-counter antihistamine to relieve the itchiness and allow the individual to sleep comfortably at night. You can also apply calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream to curb down the itchiness.
It is also vital that the individual will take frequent warm baths in water that contains an oatmeal product or simply apply a moist compress to relieve the itchiness.
Always bear in mind that there is no cure for the reaction due to exposure to poison ivy, but if not treated, it will eventually clear up on its own. Remember that prevention can go a long way. As long as the proper precautions are observed, the undesirable effects of a reaction can be avoided.