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Poison Ivy – Effects on the Body
Poison ivy is a poisonous plant found in North America and Asia. It produces urushiol, that is, a clear liquid in its sap. This compound causes extreme itching, irritation and painful rash in people who come in contact with it. Poison ivy can grow as a trailing vine, shrub or climbing vine on trees or other support.
How Do You Get a Poison Ivy Rash?
You can get poison ivy by just touching it directly. It can even happen after you touch something that has come in contact with the weed. This can be your clothes, your garden hose or equipments, your dog, or when you are trying to yank out its roots. Those who try to use a string trimmer or weed eater, will get spayed with the poison ivy saps. This is not a good idea, if you wish to protect yourself from poison ivy effects and avoid the hospital emergency room.
Never ever attempt to walk into poison ivy terrain bare legged. Scratches can cause an eruption of painful rash that you would want to avoid at any cost.
And if that’s not all, inhaling the smoke from burning firewood with poison ivy on it, will also land you in the hospital. NEVER EVER BURN POINSON IVY, as a measure to get rid of it once and for all. The oils will be released into the air and lead to many skin and breathing problems for many others who come in contact with it.
Can You Be Immune to Poison Ivy?
Talking of immunity, every individual reacts differently to poison ivy. Some develop a mild case of poison ivy, a few a full scale reaction and some have no reaction. But this doesn’t mean you are immune to poison ivy. At times, the body prepares the immune defense and the next time you come in contact, it leads to a reaction.
Some people are extremely sensitive to urushiol and few require large amounts of exposure to this chemical to develop a reaction. Thus, each person shows varying degree of sensitivity and reaction time to poison ivy. About 3 in 4 people develop a reaction to poison ivy. If you develop a poison ivy reaction once, there is no saying if you will develop the reaction again or not the second time.
What Are the Symptoms of Poison Ivy?
In some people, there is no initial sign or symptom of poison ivy. For some, it takes as long as 10 to 20 days or the functions to appear after the first contact. Once the reaction occurs, it takes about 48 to 72 hours to develop the symptoms after contact with the plant sap.
The signs and symptoms of poison ivy include:
·         Severe itching on exposed skin
·         Red colored inflammation
·         Blisters filled with clear fluid
·         In severe reactions, the rash turns painful, fluid-filled swelling
·         Some people develop an anaphylactic reaction
What to do When You are Exposed to Poison Ivy?
If you are exposed to poison ivy, immediately or within an hour or so wash the area with cold water. Do not use hot water, to clean the area. Do not shower, as you will inadvertently spread the oils all over the body.That means, you have a rash all over instead of just the exposed area. It is very important to wash the oils. Once it soaks in the skin pores, it is difficult to remove it.
Rubbing alcohol over it will also be very helpful in preventing a rash. Apply Calamine lotion, diphenhydramine lotions to ease the pain during a rash. In case of serious rashes, corticosteroid can be taken orally or applied in the form of creams on the skin.
If you think the condition is getting worse or the affected person is having an anaphylactic reaction, rush to the hospital immediately.
Will Pet Animals Be Affected By Poison Ivy?
It is clearly stated in all animal and veterinary books, that no animal is affected by poison ivy. But, this does not mean you will not get a rash by coming in contact with the oils sticking to their fur or coat. Thus, after your pet comes home after entering a poison ivy area, make sure you wear a rubber glove and wash the animal thoroughly. After cleaning the animal, make sure you clean yourself as well as your clothes. You never know the oil may stick to you and lead to a rash.
How Long Does the Oil Lasts?
Urushiol oil lasts forever. Once it sticks to something, it will never leave and cause an allergy on contact. Thus, make sure you wash everything that comes in contact with poison ivy with soap, water and alcohol. You can wash your clothes twice with bleach to get rid of it. Use alcohol and cloth to rub it off the leather shoes, jackets or other accessories. Apply oil on leather as alcohol is too dry. If you can get rid of things that are extremely covered in oil like clothes.
This was some information about poison ivy and its effects on the body. Make sure you never come in contact with it. Do not try to mow it down or burn it. Those who develop the rash, should seek medical advice.

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