Q:

What is poison ivy?

A:

Quick Answer

Poison ivy is a plant that causes an allergic reaction in the form of a red, itchy rash when touched by skin. It is found throughout most of the United States except for in the Southwest, Alaska and Hawaii.

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What is poison ivy?
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Full Answer

Poison ivy is vine that is often found along riverbanks and other wet areas. It is identified by its three shiny green leaves and red stem. Poison ivy secretes a sticky oil called urushiol that causes a rash from an allergic reaction called contact dermatitis. Brushing against or touching any part of the plant, including the roots, will transfer the oil, even if the plant is dead.

Poison ivy should not be burnt, as this will allow the oils to be come airborne. The oil from poison ivy can contaminate skin, clothing, pet fur and even nonporous materials such as gardening tools. Until the oils are washed off, they will continue to transfer via the items they have contaminated.

A rash from poison ivy is not contagious once it has been cleaned of the oils. Rashes from coming into contact with poison ivy can lead to fluid-filled blisters, small bumps and red streaks. Those who have a severe allergy to poison ivy may experience swelling and very large blisters that ooze.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How do you treat poison ivy?

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    Treat poison ivy by immediately rinsing the skin with soap and water, apply hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion, use cool compresses to sooth the skin and take antihistamines to ease symptoms, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Washing all clothing and other items that might have been exposed to the poison ivy plant to prevent additional breakouts or spreading the rash caused by it to others.

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  • Q:

    What do poison ivy blisters look like?

    A:

    A poison ivy rash begins with blisters and redness in the spot where the skin brushed against the poison ivy. It can spread as the blisters emit fluid that touches other parts of the skin, according to About.com.

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  • Q:

    Does bleach cure poison ivy?

    A:

    Bleach does not cure poison ivy, and applying it to the skin can cause tissue damage and delay healing, according to Maryland Primary Care Physicians. Bleach can lead to chemical burns and skin irritation and destroy a person's melatonin, reports Tec Labs.

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  • Q:

    Is poison ivy contagious?

    A:

    According to Everyday Health, the rash from poison ivy and the fluid in the blisters is not contagious. The oils from the plant can spread onto clothing, shoes or any item that was touched by the oils.

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