Skin rash caused by exposure to urushiol, a toxic chemical present in the resin of poison ivy plant, is called poison ivy rash. Only people sensitive to urushiol develop itchy rashes when exposed to the oily resin of poison ivy. Urushiol is also found in poison oak and poison sumac. Exposure to these plants also causes similar allergic reactions in people sensitive to urushiol.The severity of the allergic reaction following exposure to poison ivy and other plants with urushiol depends on the amount of allergen absorbed through the skin.
The itchy rash only appears on the areas of the skin that have come in direct contact with the resin of the plant. The allergic reaction occurs rapidly, within 12 to 48 hours after exposure to urushiol.With appropriate self-care, poison ivy rash clears naturally within two to three weeks. However, medications are needed for treating severe allergic reactions. Treatment for poison ivy includes treatment for itching and inflammation.
Options for Treating Poison Ivy
Thoroughly washing the area of the skin exposed to poison ivy or other plants with urushiol with soap and water helps to reduce the severity of the allergic reactions. The allergic reactions can also be reduced by rubbing the part of the skin that has come in direct contact with these plants with alcohol.The sooner you are able to remove the plant resin from the skin, the greater is your chance of avoiding allergic reactions or developing mild poison ivy rash.
Mild itching can be eased by applying calamine lotion on the affected areas of the skin. Applying cool wet compress for up to 30 minutes on the rashes, several times throughout the day, helps to alleviate the itching and discomfort. You can also use cool oatmeal-based bath to reduce the itching.
Moderate to severe poison ivy allergic reactions are usually treated with corticosteroids. In most cases, topical corticosteroids are applied to the blisters and rashes to reduce the inflammation. For treating widespread severe allergic reactions, your doctor may prescribe an oral corticosteroid.
Depending upon the severity of the allergic reaction, treatment with oral corticosteroid may last for 3 days to up to a month. Corticosteroids work by suppressing the immune system, thereby inhibiting the inflammatory reactions of the immune cells.
Oral antihistamines help to fight the allergic reactions. Moreover, by promoting sleep they help to reduce the discomfort caused by the itchy rash.
Occasionally secondary bacterial infection may develop when the skin is wounded by severe scratching. In such cases, antibiotics are used for treating the secondary bacterial infection of the skin.
Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) is used by the folk healers of America in treating poison ivy rash. Studies suggest that fresh jewelweed mash is best suited for treating contact dermatitis following exposure to poison ivy. The saponins of the plant are believed to be responsible for reducing the itching.Another plant of the jewelweed family called garden balsam (Impatiens balsamina) can also be used for treating poison ivy rash.
Caution: Please use Home Remedies after Proper Research and Guidance. You accept that you are following any advice at your own risk and will properly research or consult healthcare professional.