You were probably educated as a young child to stay away from poison ivy, or that dangerous three-stem leaf. Poison ivy is a toxic plant that is common in Georgia and throughout the United States. This plant is most known for the itchy, spreading and disruptive rash it creates on the skin upon contact. A poison ivy rash can include painful blisters and increased redness and swelling across the skin.
It is not the actual leaves of poison ivy that cause harm. Instead, it is the oily resin (called urushiol) that is found on the leaves, stems, and roots. Unfortunately, this oil is both colorless and odorless, which is why it is recommended that people avoid the plant altogether. To make matters worse, the toxic oily substance sticks easily to a variety of surfaces, including your clothing, shoelaces, pet fur and lawn tools. The oil must be washed off to prevent contamination and the resulting rash. Did you know that it’s possible to have a skin reaction after touching an object with poison ivy oil even years later?
When to See a Doctor for Poison Ivy
In the majority of cases, professional treatment is not necessary for a poison ivy rash. Most rashes clear on their own within 1-2 weeks. However, some rashes are more severe and some people are more sensitive to the toxic plant. Therefore, a trip to a dermatologist may be warranted to prevent serious complications or alleviate extreme discomfort. Everyday Health lists the following reasons to see a doctor for poison ivy:
- 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
At Olansky Dermatology Associates, we offer complete skin care for the entire family. We know that poison ivy rash tops the list of skin concerns during the spring and summer months. Please don’t hesitate to call us if you or your child is suffering from a skin rash of any kind. We can offer prescription medication for a poison ivy rash if appropriate.