After publishing the blog about poison oak treatment, I have also received some questions on how to identify poison ivy rash or whether the two were the same.
No, I must confirm.
Later on, I will give all you need to know about the poison ivy rash and ways to protect yourself from this common poisonous plant.
Poison Ivy Plant: Identification & Characteristics
What is poison ivy?
Scientifically, poison ivy is so-called Toxicodendron radicans – a common poisonous flowering plant growing in the Eastern North America or Asia.
This is an unwelcome weed, being well-known for causing itchy or even painful rash for whoever contacts the plant’s sap.
What does the poison ivy look like?
“Leaflets three, let it be!”
If you are being taken into the wet wood by a native tour guide or taking part in an excursion around the bushy garden areas, you may receive this advice, beforehand.
Then, you should really take care of it.
The poison ivy is usually all available there, ready to cause the itching, red rashes, and eventually blisters.
Fortunately, it is not very hard to identify the poison ivy in most situations because of three noticeable characteristics:
Poison ivy leaves
The plant has 3 bright-green leaves, which are elliptical in shape and wider at the base with few or no teeth. Plus, leaves are arranged alternatively. The middle one is often longer than the others.
On being mature, those leaves change to the dark-green color.
The steam has no thorns. Instead, it has bunches of berries, connecting to the main wine. Thus, it can run along the ground or climb on buildings or trees.
However, the poison ivy grows flexibly, from the short plants to the tall stalks. Sometimes, to find sunlight, the low weeds grow upwards and turn into a small shrub. Then, it quickly grows rampant and takes over the surrounding habitat.
Changes through seasons
In spring, poison ivy plants develop green leaves, along with small white flowers. In summer, they procedure greenish berries. At the late of the summertime, several leaves can be a bit reddish.
When the autumn comes, the leaves turn red, yellow, or orange. In winter, leaves are almost gone, yet you can still figure out the remaining white berries and gray bark.
Poison ivy vs. Poison oak vs. Poison sumac rash
Symptoms of poison ivy reactions are quite similar to those caused by the poison oak: itchy redness, rash, and blisters.
It is better that you can make out the differences between the three poisonous plants to reflect what you have been likely to contact.
In brief, leaves of the poison ivy are somewhat more smooth. Also, they are attached to their own stem. Meanwhile, the poison oak features a glossier and fuzzy texture. Finally, the poison sumac often has 7 to 13 leaves on stems and as pairs.
Where does poison ivy often grow?
Can you come across the poison ivy in your daily routine?
Yes, especially when you are somewhere in the suburbs of New England, North America, eastern states of the Canadian Maritime, Rocky Mountains, Ontario, or parts of Mexico.
Poison ivy plants are also found in some Asian areas such as Taiwan, Japan, the Russian islands, or some parts of China.
In terms of specific habitat and adaptation, this type of poisonous plant persists in both dry and wet climates, without being completely shade-tolerant. Thus, you might find the poison ivy in woods, fields, city parks, or even your gardens. The strong root and a tough outer cuticle make it hard to get rid of the poison ivy.
How can poison ivy cause rash?
What causes rashes is the urushiol oil coming from the poison ivy plant, to be specific, from the leaves, stem, roots, vine, flowers, or berries.
In some cases, you do not have to touch the poison ivy plant itself to have rashes. The oil can stick to your pets’ fur or to outdoor items such as clothing, tools, shoes, etc.
Upon contact with our skin, the oil is quickly absorbed, which results in allergic contact dermatitis. Simply put, it causes hallmark rash and irritation of the skin.
How to Identify Poison Ivy Rash?
Interestingly enough, not all of us react to the oil of poison ivy. Also, the clear symptom might emerge any time within hours to 10 days after we exposed to the source of plant oil – partly depending on how much is the oil.
Commonly, the symptoms are itching feelings, red rash, and worst, blisters.
- Redness in lines or streaks. It creates Itching that makes you scratch sometimes. In several situations, the allergic reactions are so strong that rashes can cover your whole body.
- The rash will be reddy, itchy, and swollen. It often has hives and service.
- After one or three weeks, the skin rashes turn into blisters and start to dry up. Gradually, the itching feeling is less and the rash is faded.
- If you smoke the poisoned air including the poison ivy, you might even suffer from irritation in your airway and lungs. As a result, breathing is a bit hard.
Best Poison Ivy Treatment
If you have some symptoms similar to the identification of poison ivy rash as above, then, do not worry.
Here comes a list of poison ivy remedy, poison ivy medicine, and even some home remedies for poison ivy.
First, get rid of all possible poison ivy oil
Urushiol oil is so tenacious that it can stick to anything near you and cause rashes on accidental contact, for example, your skin, your clothing, your pets, or the gardening equipment.
Thus, you should clean what you think that might contain the poisonous oil, especially your hands, with lukewarm water and soap.
Also, avoid scratching the rash and touch other parts of your body. Otherwise, the rash can spread and become even worse.
10+ Home remedies for poison ivy
The earlier you find out about the possible symptoms, the sooner you can treat it off completely.
This type of salt can dry out the pustules fast and then, bring great relief to your skin. This solution is useful if your skin is partly affected by the poison ivy oil.
Fortunately, you can find the salt at home or any grocery store.
How to use it?
- Mix 1 tablespoon salt with 1 cup of water
- Boil the water over medium heat
- Cool the saltwater
- Then, rinse the skin with clean cool water and let it dry
- Soak a cotton pad into the saltwater and apply it to the affected skin for 5 minutes
- Repeat the process until you feel no itchy
Otherwise, you can go for coconut oil.
This solution is the naturally best poison ivy treatment that suitable for any type of skin. It is thanks to the healthy fat contained within the coconut oil. It helps nourish the rashed areas and fasten the healing process.
Simply put, you can take out a small dab of the coconut oil and have it massaged onto the rashes. Repeat the process for five to ten times a day then you can see a surprising result.
It is still controversial whether you should apply toothpaste onto the rash or scratched areas. However, when it comes to getting it of poison ivy rash, toothpaste shows its positive effect.
Accordingly, this solution helps cool down the affected areas and utilize the poison ivy relief, using the mild anesthetic. Nevertheless, we only recommend natural toothpaste since the chemical ones might do more harm than good.
You just need to apply a small amount of toothpaste on the rash spots, leave it there for one night, and rinse it the next morning with lukewarm water.
Baking Soda Paste
Baking soda can complete almost every house chore, from cooking to cleaning things. And now, you know one more interesting benefit of baking soda: poison ivy cure!
What do you need?
- 2 tablespoons of water
- 6 tablespoons of baking soda
How to make a poison ivy lotion?
- Mixture the two ingredients and whisk them all to get a thick paste
- Wash your hands and the affected areas with clean water
- Directly apply the paste on the rash and leave it to dry
- Wash the dried baking soda with clean water and repeat the procedure several times a day
You do not have the Epsom salt, coconut oil, or baking soda available?
Then, you must at least have one lemon in your fridge. Just take it out.
With a high amount of vitamin C, the lemon juice is one of the best homemade poison ivy medication.
Similar to the Epsom salt, you need to drop lemon juice into the lukewarm water and boil it over medium heat. Then, apply the solution to the rash pots and it will relieve your uncomfortable feeling.
Come to think of your fridge, you can also use the cucumber besides the lemon as the best poison ivy treatment. This fruit not only soothes the itchy rash, but it also nourishes the skin and prevents the swelling.
You only need to slice the cucumber and rub one piece directly on the pustules. A cool sliced cucumber gives an instant calming sensation and fastens the healing.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Similar to the lemon juice, the apple cider vinegar is also rich in vitamin C and other nutritions to take the poisonous oil out of the rash. As a result, you can expect the rash to disappear quickly.
All to do is to soak a clean cotton pad with the vinegar and apply directly onto the infected skin several times per day.
Jewelweed, so-called the “Touch Me Not”, can be found almost everywhere. This natural herb is used to treat skin problems, including the poison ivy rash. The fluid contained in the herb can neutralize the urushiol and reduce the itchy feeling.
You can simply break the steam and rub the fluid directly onto the poison ivy rashes.
Another natural poison ivy treatment is to use the Witch Hazel trees or Hazel Tonic in any drug store.
This helps to cool the itchy feeling and speed up the healing process. The rash spots do not disappear in a matter of the day. However, you will feel – more or less, better.
In addition to the natural coconut oil, you can also use your favorite essential oils.
However, check the label carefully to ensure to take safety measures. The essential oils are useful to relieve the uncomfortable feeling. Nonetheless, they consist of a high amount of plant substance, which can be a bit irritating when overused.
When to Go to The Doctor?
Normally, the poison ivy rash might disappear after a few days applying the home remedies for poison ivy as above. If not, then you had better have a professional doctor to check your health condition.
You should call for a doctor and have poison ivy medications, if:
- You breathe hard and have a fever of over 37.8 degrees celsius
- The rash is spread into your mouth, your eyes, or other genital parts of the body
- There is pus flowing out of your blisters
- The rash does not fade and disappeared after 1-week treatment
Overall, How to Prevent Poison Ivy?
Prevention is always better than cure.
To protect yourself from the uncomfortable poison ivy rash, you should first and foremost, remember all the things to identify the poison ivy. Next time, you should avoid any potentially dangerous plants. Moreover, get rid of all poison ivy in your backyard or garden, if there is any.
Also, always keep your clothing and pets as clean as possible.