Probably the best thing for you to do is stay away from it.
Poison Ivy: How it Works
Poison ivy causes a rash in 90% of the people who come into contact with it. The rash is caused by an oil on the surface of the leaves, urushiol, coming in contact with any part of the body or even clothing. The same oil is carried by sumac and poison oak (Tips on how to get rid of poison oak). The rash itches like crazy and can be spread by the hands if it has been touched (it cannot be spread by scratching the rash, though scratching can create an open wound that could become infected). It can be spread by coming into contact with shoes or clothing that have brushed against it. In fact, the oil can even become airborne through mowing or burning.
It’s pretty potent stuff. It takes an extraordinarily small amount to create a rash – one billionth of a gram, a nanogram. And it can stick and stay active on any surface for up to five years. Frequent hand washing is a good defense against its spread, and any clothing that is even suspected of contacting it should be laundered immediately.
Is there any defense against it? I once knew a fellow who was attempting to build immunity by ingesting poison ivy leaves, starting with a tiny portion, and working up to bigger amounts in the fashion of homeopathy. I never found out the result, but I do know he lived through it – But don’t you try this!
Poison Ivy Rashes and Treatments
Urushiol oil is an irritant, not really poison. There are no known fatalities from urushiol rashes, though people who are immuno-compromised could develop some form of dermatitis. It is contagious only in the sense that one person who has contacted the urushiol oil can spread it to others through contact. There are no contagions involved.
Poison Ivy Symptoms
As for treatment, the only case of an emergency which requires immediate hospital care is when a person with higher-than-average sensitivity comes into contact with it. These people make up between 10 and 20 percent of the allergic population. They break out in a rash in 4 to 12 hours instead of the normal 24 to 48. Their eyes may swell shut and blisters may erupt on their skin. They are usually given a shot of corticosteroids to bring the swelling down.
Poison Ivy Cures
Rashes can be treated at home through such folk remedies as taking a bath in water to which baking soda or Epsom salts have been added. Poultices made of half oatmeal, half baking soda are also said to be effective. Over-the-counter commercial treatments include Caladryl, Benadryl, Desitin, and good old-fashioned, cheap calamine lotion.
Poison Ivy Pictures: Identification
The only effective defense known to us is to be able to recognize it and stay away from it. Poison ivy is easily identified. It’s low-growing, seldom higher than two feet, and bears branches of three green, shiny leaves:
Click here for more information on how to get rid of poison ivy.