Poison ivy is sneaky. You spend a little time enjoying the great outdoors, and a few hours later you have this itchy, red rash with blisters to boot.
We know how you feel. Help! At Associated Skin Care Specialists, our experienced board-certified dermatologists help many patients every year deal with their poison ivy.
What can you do when you think your rash is poison ivy? Here’s more information about the plant, what causes that crazy itchiness, and what you can do about it.
How did I get this?
Poison ivy is a vine or shrub that grows all over the United States. The plant, along with poison sumac and poison oak, produce a substance called urushiol. A large majority of people are allergic to urushiol, which is found on the leaves, stems, and roots of the plant.
When you come into contact with the plant, directly or indirectly (Perhaps it was brought in the house by your dog.), you develop a rash. It starts out as an itch, then turns red, and finally forms blisters.
How soon the rash appears depends on whether you’ve previously had poison ivy. For those with a history of poison ivy, a rash usually appears anywhere from 4 to 48 hours after contact with urushiol. If you’ve never had poison ivy, the rash may take two to three weeks to appear.
Is it poison ivy?
If you’ve never had poison ivy before and it’s been weeks since you’ve been out in the woods, then you may question the origin of your rash. So how do you know if it’s poison ivy? Here’s a list of common traits of this allergic rash:
- Your skin is very itchy
- The rash appears soon after you develop that intense itch
- Your rash turns into blisters
- The blisters that leak clear fluid
- The blisters get crusty
- The rash disappears within two to three weeks
The poison ivy rash itself isn’t contagious. But it may feel contagious if you have blistered rashes in different spots all over your body. You only develop poison ivy on the skin that comes in contact with the urushiol.
What can I do?
Whatever you do, try not to scratch that itch. Scratching poison ivy puts you at risk of an infection. To soothe the itching, you can take short, lukewarm baths; apply calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream to your skin; or take antihistamines.
Poison ivy resolves on its own with at-home care within two to three weeks. But if you have concerns about your skin rash, you’re not sure it’s poison ivy, or your rash isn’t going away, then it’s time to get help from the professionals.
For poison ivy that fails to improve with at-home care, we prescribe a steroid cream to ease the inflammation and itching. We also check for infection and provide treatment as needed.
Poison ivy isn’t fun. If you think you’ve come in contact with the poisonous plant, put your clothes in the wash, and take a lukewarm shower to rinse off the resin.
If you need help for your rash, whether it’s poison ivy or some other skin condition like hives, we can help. We provide dermatology care at our offices in Blaine, Eden Prairie, Maple Grove, Minneapolis, and Coon Rapids, Minnesota. Make an appointment today using our convenient online scheduling tool by following the above links or by calling one of our offices.
For your convenience, we also provide telemedicine appointments for consultations.
We also have offices in Fridley, Minnesota, to address dermatology needs.