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Poison ivy is a poisonous shrub or plant that produces an oily sap on the surface of its leaves. It can cause an itchy and or burning red rash and sometimes even blisters on the skin after a person comes into contact with the ivy plant or its leaves. The poision ivy rash often appears in a linear or straight-line pattern due to the manner in which the plant usually touches the skin. But touching infected objects can develop a more spread out rash.
The poison ivy rash is an allergic reaction caused by the exposure to oily sap called urushiol. This sticky oil is present in the roots, leaves, and stems. Plants like poison oak and poison sumac also produce the same oil. You can develop the rash by touching the oil, contaminated items, and by inhaling the smoke from burning poison ivy plants. The rash can appear 12 to 48 hours after exposure.
Common poison ivy rash symptoms are:
The poison ivy rash and its symptoms will last one to three weeks. Immediately rinsing the skin with water after contacting with the plant can limit the chance of spread to other areas or individuals. Washing the clothes that may be exposed to the sticky oil can help slow down the spread of the rash.
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Poison ivy rash is not contagious, as you cannot develop a rash by touching another person’s rash. However, you can develop a skin rash by coming into contact with the oil on another person’s clothes or body and contaminated objects like camping gear or gardening tools.
The poison ivy rash heals within a week or two. However, to soothe your rash and recover faster, your doctor may prescribe medications, anti-itch creams, colloidal oatmeal bath, and cold compresses. They may recommend an oral steroid for severe rashes or rashes located on the mucous membranes of mouth, eyes, nose, or genitals. Your doctor will also advise you to not scratch or tamper any blisters that may have developed.
Contact your doctor if:
It is not contagious after a shower. Showering helps to reduce the spread.
If your rash blister oozes pus, covering it prevents any bacterial infections. Also, caustic materials like rubbing alcohol can damage your tissues and delay the healing process. Properly covering the rash and keeping it clean will help it heal quickly.
If you are a resident of Canton, Michigan, or Southeast Michigan and have a severe poison ivy rash, MI Express Care Urgent Care is here to help you. We have a healthcare team that is experienced with allergies, skin infections, rashes, and other urgent care needs.
Dr. Umayr Azimi, a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine, is the Medical Director of MI Express Care, an urgent care center in Canton, Michigan. He is a board-certified physician with advanced training in a wide range of non-life-threatening medical conditions. He believes that every visit is unique and treats every patient as an individual to ensure that all of his patients get the best treatment.