One of the big keys is to receive aggressive treatment in the first four days of symptoms. After four days, there is an increased risk that the rash will become systemic and the patient will develop symptoms in places that were never in contact with the plant. Systemic poison ivy is an extreme allergic reaction to urushiol oil found in a poison ivy plant. Unlike a typical reaction to poison ivy, which causes the appearance of a localized rash on the skin where contact occurred, a systemic reaction is one that is not isolated in one area.
These eruptions can spread throughout the body, even to areas that had no direct contact with the plant. This condition can be life-threatening, but treatments are available. If an allergic reaction to poison ivy isn't severe enough, systemic poison ivy is even worse. When exposed to poison ivy, this annoying localized rash appears on the skin where the contact took place.
But with a systemic reaction, poison ivy rash spreads throughout the body, even to areas that had no direct contact with the plant. It can develop into serious blisters that could last for weeks and even endanger the lives of some people. The allergic reaction to poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac is usually contact dermatitis. This can occur 24 to 72 hours after exposure.
Dermatitis is characterized by itchy bumps and blisters. Sometimes swelling occurs in the contact area. Eventually, the blisters rupture, ooze, and then crust. The rash that occurs when in contact with poison ivy can become a systemic problem; that is, it can spread internally throughout the body.
When that happens, the situation worsens and affects the T cells of the immune system. I haven't experienced this side of poison ivy disease, but the images I've seen of victims covered in sores are sobering. Do you need a vaccine or a booster? Now schedule for children 6 months and older Poison ivy is a common poisonous plant that causes an itchy skin rash. Other poisonous plants that induce eruptions include poison oak and poison sumac.
These plants produce an oily sap called urushiol that causes an irritating and itchy allergic reaction. When you touch a poisonous plant or an object that has been in contact with a plant, you have an itchy rash. This rash is a form of allergic contact dermatitis. Your healthcare provider will look at the rash, evaluate your symptoms, and ask you questions to determine if you may have found a poisonous plant.
Other allergens and irritants, in addition to poisonous plants, can cause contact dermatitis or itchy rash. If you haven't been outdoors or in contact with plants, your healthcare provider will want to rule out other skin conditions or causes. Your healthcare provider may prescribe an oral steroid, such as prednisone, if the rash becomes more severe or if it forms on the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, mouth, or genitals. It may look like a rash is spreading, but in reality new rashes are developing on areas of the skin that were in contact with urushiol oil.
You may have touched a plant in some areas and haven't even noticed, for example, if a backpack strap rubs against plants and then touches your bare shoulder. Some rashes take longer to develop. The extent of the rash depends on the sensitivity of the skin and the amount of oil it touched. You can't get a poison ivy rash by touching someone else's rash.
However, you could develop a rash if you touch the oil on someone else's body or clothing. It can also come into contact with oil by touching your pet's fur or a contaminated object, such as a gardening tool or camping equipment. The best way to avoid developing this itchy rash is to learn what poisonous plants look like in order to avoid them. Most poisonous plant eruptions cause mild (but annoying) symptoms that go away in a week or two.
Rarely, a rash lasts longer than a month. Scratching can open the skin and cause an infection. Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission.
We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Even dead plants or objects that have been in contact with poison ivy long ago should be avoided, as the oil can remain active on any surface for years. When hiking or camping, it's best to wear long pants, socks and long sleeves, and to stay on normal trails and make sure your camp is free of poison ivy. Never use an axe or chainsaw on a poison ivy vine, unless you are fully protected with clothing and safety glasses, or plan to wash soon.
I think all the swelling and low blood count was due to a systemic reaction from poison ivy that entered my wound, but the doctor disagrees. It's important to take extra care when you go outdoors and remember that having systemic poison ivy is no easy task. Your doctor will most likely prescribe injections of steroids and other medications for systemic poison ivy treatment. The next day I was surprised to discover that I had some small hives, and when I returned to the clipping scene, I was horrified to discover that it was poison ivy.
Although there may be a risk for certain people, many outdoor enthusiasts create annual immunity against poison ivy by eating a freshly opened leaflet once a week for seven to nine weeks. Poison oak closely resembles poison ivy, although it generally looks more like a shrub, and its leaves have a shape similar to oak leaves. Rashes should not be scratched and poison ivy blisters should not burst, as this can lead to infection and leave scars. However, poison ivy rash is possible if you touch plant resin that is still on the person or contaminated clothing.