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why does my poison ivy rash keeps spreading

"Leaves of three - let it be! " aptly describes this woody vine with 2-4" leaflets in groups of three. The center leaf has a longer stem than the other two. Poison ivy clings to tree trunks and other vertical surfaces with hair-like aerial rootlets that grow out of the stem. If a climbing surface isn't available, poison ivy will grow as a free standing shrub. The leaves of poison ivy turn shades of red and purple in fall. Poison ivy is caused by an allergic reaction ( ) to the oily coating that covers of these plants. The resinous coating is called "urushiol". These are called Rhus plants after the old scientific name (it was changed to toxidendron). A person doesn't have to come in direct contact with the leaves, roots, or branches of Rhus plants to get the rash. One can get it from contaminated clothing. Even in winter the leafless stems and vines can cause the familiar skin rash. No one is born with sensitivity to Poison ivy, but if exposed enough most people become sensitized at some time and remain allergic. A sensitivity can change at any time. There's no way to desensitize people allergic to Rhus plants. Dogs and other animals are not affected by poison ivy, but people can get the rash by petting a dog that's been exposed. The rash itself is not contagious, and the fluid in the blisters does not spread the rash. Poison ivy dermatitis appears as soon as four hours or as long as 10 days after the exposure, depending on individual sensitivity and the amount exposure. As the rash appears, any sensitivity a person had begins to increase. One starts to react to the slightest traces of a few molecules on the skin. This causes the rash to appear to be spreading, even after treatment has begun. Poison ivy dermatitis rashes are self-limited; sooner or later they clear up without treatment. Letting nature take its course with mild poison ivy dermatitis is reasonable, but severe rashes need treatment to ease the misery and disability they cause.

The very first time this rash is gotten, it lasts longer than a repeat attack, often 3 or 4 weeks. type preparations taken by mouth are dramatically effective in treating Poison ivy dermatitis rash. It's safe to take these drugs for a short period (2-3 weeks). If a person has a peptic ulcer, high blood pressure, or diabetes, cortisone should be taken only under close medical supervision. Improvement of the rash should be prompt and steady. It depends on getting enough cortisone. Blisters and itching will improve with moist compresses. Make a batch of "Burows solution" by putting 1 or 2 "Dome-Boro" tablets in a pint of water (available from a pharmacist). Apply this to the blistering areas for 20 minutes two or three times daily. Follow the compresses with the prescribed cream if any. Very hot water stops the itch, but is not good for the skin or the rash. When the swelling has gone down, stop the compresses and apply only the cream. Cream applied before the blisters and swelling go down are not effective alone. One may bathe or shower as usual, but avoid hot water. Poison Ivy can be partially prevented by application of "Ivy Block" lotion before going in the woods, and washing off an exposed area with "Technu" liquid as soon as exposure is detected. In the woods, rub the Jewelweed plant on exposed skin. The tannins in this plant may bind the resin and prevent the rash. This does no harm, but is only effective within 15 minutes of exposure. Clothing, pets, and tools need to be washed or one may become re-exposed to the resin. The medical information provided in this site is for educational purposes only and is the property of the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice and shall not create a physician - patient relationship. If you have a specific question or concern about a skin lesion or disease, please consult a dermatologist.

Any use, re-creation, dissemination, forwarding or copying of this information is strictly prohibited unless expressed written permission is given by the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology.
YouБre may already be quite familiar with the uncomfortable, itchy feeling you have when you have come in contact with poison ivy. However, the following facts about poison ivy rashes may help you better control and cope with a developing rash. 1. Poison ivy rashes, along with those from poison oak and sumac, are caused by sensitivity to the oils found on the leaves of these plants. These oils immediately begin soaking into your skin and the rash appears between 12 and 72 hours after exposure to the oils. It can last up to eight weeks. The length and severity of the rash depends on how much oil is absorbed by your skin. 2. You will often develop a rash after accidentally touching a poison ivy plant. However, the oils from the plant may also rub off on clothing or pets and touching these can result in a rash. Poison ivy oil, called urushiol, can stay on clothing for years, so it is important to wash clothes immediately if you have touched or been exposed to a poison ivy plant. 3. Though it can sometimes seem as if the poison ivy rash is spreading, the rash does not spread. б It is more likely that your skin absorbed the oils at different rates and so the rash continued to appear over several days. You may also have oils on your clothing or other objects and you touched these oils later so the rash appeared in stages. You should wash the area with soap and water immediately after coming in contact with a plant to avoid spreading the oil to different parts of your body. 4. Poison ivy rashes often appear as a straight line because of how you brushed the plant. However, if you have oil on your hands and rub your skin, pet an animal that has urushiol on their fur or come in contact with clothing with the oil on it, the rash may be more widespread. 5.

Scratching the rash does not cause it to spread, but it can cause infection. Germs on your hands and under your fingernails can cause an infection when you scratch, especially when you open the blisters. 6. The poison ivy plant has a trio of bright green leaves on each stem. The leaves turn red in the fall. Many children are taught the saying, БLeaves of three, let it beБ to help remind them to stay away from any plant with three leaves on the stem. Wearing protective clothing and gloves when gardening or walking in the woods can help you avoid making contact with the plant. Be sure to wash the clothing after working in the yard or being in wooded areas. 7. Most cases of poison ivy rash can be treated with over-the-counter creams and lotions. Calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream can help cut down on the itchiness. Cold compresses or oatmeal baths can feel soothing. Antihistamines, such as Benadryl, can help if you are having problems sleeping because of discomfort from the rash. You should contact your doctor if The rash is severe (covering more than one-quarter of your body) or interfering with your ability to carry out daily activities. The rash is on sensitive areas of your body, such as your eyes, mouth or genitals. The rash looks infectedБfor example, the blisters are oozing pus. You develop a fever or swollen glands along with the rash. You still have the rash after a few weeks. You have headaches along with the rash. 8. Be careful when getting rid of poison ivy plants from your yard or garden. Use gloves and protective clothing if digging up the plant and place in a plastic bag to throw away as the roots and plant can remain toxic for a long period of time. You can also use commercial herbicides, such as RoundUp. But be careful not to kill other plants you want to keep in your garden. Never burn the plant as inhaling the fumes can cause damage to your lungs.

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