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Poison Ivy: Signs, Symptoms and Precautions

Here’s How to Recognize Signs of Poison Ivy

Poison ivy is the most common allergy in the United States, affecting about 50 million people every year. The rash from poison ivy is caused by an allergic reaction to urushiol, an oily substance in the leaves, stems and roots of poison ivy, through direct contact. Urushiol is also found in poison oak and poison sumac, which means the rash can be contracted by interacting with any of the three plants.

Other than direct contact, poison ivy can spread through anything that touches the oil such as skin, pet fur, clothing etc. However, blister fluid from a rash will not cause spreading.

The best way to avoid getting poison ivy is to wash clothes, gardening tools or skin that may have touched the plant immediately upon returning indoors. Most causes of poison ivy can be treated at home with lotions and cool baths. However, if your rash is widespread on the face or genitals, a prescription medication may be needed to treat your poison ivy symptoms.

Signs of Poison Ivy: When to See A Doctor

In rare cases, medical attention is needed to treat poison ivy. If the following symptoms are present please visit your nearest American Family Care,

  • A fever over 100 degrees F (37.8 degrees C)
  • Pus or yellow scabs on your rash
  • Tenderness or itching that gets worse or disturbs sleep
  • A rash that covers your eyes, mouth, or genital area
  • A rash that covers large areas of your body
  • A large area of broken blisters, or other broken skin
  • No sign of improvement after a few weeks
  • Difficulty breathing
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