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Poison Ivy can be found in every state except Alaska and Hawaii. At least 85 percent of people are allergic to poison ivy. The plant, which you can brush up against or your pets can bring back to you on their fur, will leave an itchy rash on your skin.

Causes

Poison ivy has oil in its sap called urushiol. Urushiol is an irritant that causes an allergic reaction. The sap is so strong that your skin doesn’t have to come into direct contact with it. It can cause a reaction even if it is just on your shoes or clothes. The allergic reaction from this three-leafed plant is called contact dermatitis.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms from a skin irritant like poison ivy include:

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Blisters that are painful

Rashes from the plant can take time to develop and give the illusion of spreading.

Treatment

The first line of treatment for poison ivy is avoiding places where it grows. Also, there are ivy-blocking creams that contain bentoquatam that you can apply to your skin before going outdoors. If you’re already infected with it though, you can often treat it at home.

If you have severe reactions to poison ivy exposure like shortness of breath, or you have a rash on your face, genitals or a large area of your body, seek emergency medical attention immediately.

To treat at home, you can take an over-the-counter antihistamine like Benadryl to help relieve the itching and to also help you sleep more soundly. Applying topical ointments like hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion helps to stop the itch. In addition, applying a cold, wet compress or taking frequent warm baths in water containing oatmeal product will also help to relieve the itching.

Should I go to Indigo?

Poison ivy can be a pain, and MultiCare Indigo Urgent Care can evaluate your rash and make recommendations for treatment for healing and itch relief.

You’re better off heading to your nearest emergency department if:

  • You inhaled the smoke from burning poison ivy plants
  • The rash covers the majority of your body
  • The rash has spread to your face or genitals
  • The blisters in the rash have become infected

Find an Indigo Urgent Care location near you.