What Are the Basics of Poison Ivy Rash?

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What is poison ivy rash?

Poison ivy rash is an allergic skin reaction to a toxic plant, poison ivy. It typically has three leaves, like in the pictures below.

Poison Ivy leaves

The allergy source comes from a clear oil in the plant’s sap. If the plant oil remains in contact with the skin for 10 to 15 minutes, an allergic reaction can occur. The resulting rash begins after 12 to 48 hours of the exposure. Mild cases can last 5 to 12 days. More severe cases can last up to 30 days or longer.


How does poison ivy rash look like?

The allergic reaction of poison ivy rash can range from mild red bumps to an intense allergic reaction of swelling, blistering, and oozing. Here are some pictures that help you to identify them.


What are the symptoms of poison ivy rash?

The signs and symptpms of the rash include:

  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Swelling
  • Blisters
  • Difficulty breathing, if you’ve inhaled the smoke from burning poison ivy.

The rash often looks like a staight line and may spread out if you touch some comtaminated objects or pet fur.


What causes poison ivy rash?

Poison ivy rash is caused by the sap oil called urushiol. The oil is sticky, so it can easily attaches to you skin, clothing, tools and pet’s fur. You can get an allergic reaction from:

  • Direct Touch. If you touch the leaves, stem roots and berries of the plant, you may have a reaction.
  • Touching contaminated objects. If you walk through some poison ivy and then later touch your shoes or trousers, you may get some urushiol on your hands. Then by touching or rubbing you face or body without noticing it, you may be allergic.
  • Inhaling smoke from the burning plants. The oil can be vaporized if you put fire on the poison ivy.

A poison ivy rash itself is not contagious. The blister fluid doesn’t contain urushiol and won’t spread the rash. If you think you get poison ivy rash from another person, you may have touched the urushiol on that person’s clothing.

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