Rash caused by poison oak, poison ivy or poison sumac is basically an allergic reaction attributed to a resin enclosed by the roots, stems and leaves of these toxic plants. As these poisonous plants grow in abundance during the spring, majority of the cases of such allergic reactions happen during this season of the year.
It may be noted that the rash as well as cure of these three allergic reactions are identical. While this article mainly concentrates on the allergic reactions caused by poison ivy, the most widespread among the three conditions, what is applicable for poison ivy is also applicable for poison sumac and poison oak.
A child may develop poison ivy from the plant directly or by touching any object that has been exposed to the plant and has some of the toxic resinous oil on it. For instance, when any child lifts up a rake which had been lying on a bed of poison ivy, he/ she may develop the typical allergic rash.
On the other hand, if clothing or the part of one’s body which has touched the poisonous plant is not washed meticulously, the resinous oil may extend to other parts of the body, or may even be spread from the affected person to other individuals. On the other hand, a potentially and somewhat grave form of exposure may occur by means of inhaling the smoke given out by the burning leaves, provided there are parts of poison ivy plants amongst them.
It may be noted that rashes caused by the poison ivy may occur anytime ranging from some hours to a few days following the victim coming in contact with its toxic resin. Generally, the victim has to endure the rash for anything between one week and four weeks and normally the rash is most horrible four to seven days following the exposure.
The ruthlessness of this condition is largely dependent on the victim’s amount of exposure with the resinous oil and also the extent of sensitivity the child has to this poisonous plant. It is interesting to note that everyone does not have allergic reactions even when coming in contact with the resinous oil produced by poison ivy.
While this noxious resin may not cause any botheration to some children, there are others who may develop acute and widespread rash.
Initially, the rash emerges as red, extremely itchy pimples which might develop into small blisters filled with fluid. In case the victim has come in contact with the rim of a poison ivy leaf, the rash is likely to emerge in a straight line. Like in the instance of all other types of skin rashes and wounds, the rash caused by coming in contact with the resinous oil of poison ivy may even develop into an infection. In case you observe any signs of local contagion, for instance, enhanced reddishness, distension, warmth or soreness at the rash sites, you ought to seek immediate medical help.
If you find that your child who has been exposed to poison ivy is enduring pain or puffiness on the face or his/ her genital regions and is very uneasy/ distressing owing to the condition, or if you notice that the rash has become very widespread, you should waste no time in seeking medical help. Apart from such conditions, it is possible to treat most other cases of allergic reactions by poison ivy at home very successfully.
Supplements and herbs
A number of herbs and supplements are known to be effective in treating allergic reactions caused by exposure to the poison ivy plant. Some of the herbs and supplements which may help to alleviate the poisoning as well as associated symptoms are discussed briefly below.
For instance, if you apply aloe vera gel to the rash at lease thrice every day, it will have soothing effect. You can also apply a tincture prepared with calendula to the rashes on your child’s body a number of times everyday or as required to help him/ her get relief from the itching as well as facilitate the healing of the skin.
The juice extracted from the jewelweed plant is excellent for alleviating itching as well as inflammation. Take a fresh jewelweed plant and just slit the stem and apply the juice on the rash. In addition, jewelweed also helps in restricting the rash from spreading to new areas. It may be mentioned that jewelweed is a perennial wildflower, which is occasionally also called as impatiens.
Nevertheless, it is important that you ought not to get confused with the cultivated variety of annual plants called impatiens, available commercially from nurseries as well as garden centers. The cultivated variety of impatiens is an entirely different plant from the native perennial wildflower plant called jewelweeds and does not have any positive effect in healing rashes caused by exposure to poison ivy. Generally, you may obtain jewelweed from shops selling herbs and herbal formulations and also from qualified herbalists.
Applying tea tree oil is very beneficial if you are exposed to any of these plants or their oils.
Additional things you may do
In addition to using herbs and supplements to heal ivy poison, there are several other things you may do which will alleviate your child’s allergic symptoms as well heal the skin rashes. For instance, when anyone comes in contact with poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac or their resinous oils, they ought to immediately wash the affected body parts meticulously using soap and water at the earliest.
Alternately, they may also rub alcohol on the affected body parts, as this will help to dissolve as well as get rid of the toxic oils from their skin. It is important to remember that if one is able to remove the resinous oil within 10 minutes of coming in contact with it, they are unlikely to develop the bothersome and painful rash.
In addition, at times, the symptoms of mild rash caused by exposure to the resinous oils of these poisonous plants may also be alleviated by applying chilly compresses either with water or milk to the affected areas. Alternately, applying calamine, an over-the-counter liniment, to the rash would also help to get relief from the rash as well as the associated symptoms of ivy poison. Taking a bath by adding Aveeno oatmeal to your bath water will also help you to get relief from the itching caused by the rash.
Taking oral antihistamines like diphenhydramine (Benadryl) may also be useful in alleviating the symptoms of rashes attributable to poison ivy. However, you need to exercise caution while taking such medications, since they have the tendency to cause drowsiness and it may not be right to undertake any work that requires alertness, such as driving a car or operating any machinery. It may be noted that using non-prescription corticosteroid lotions is usually not helpful in treating poison ivy.
Here is a word of caution. You should never attempt to treat severe cases of allergic reaction due to poison ivy at home or adopt a ‘wait and watch’ approach towards the condition. Instead you should straight away go to the emergency department close to your home or call an ambulance.
Till the time the ambulance arrives, you may do the following things – try to remain unruffled; avoid any further exposure to any of the poisonous plants; and also take any antihistamine – one or two tablets or capsules of Benadryl (diphenhydramine) in case you do not have any difficulty in swallowing them.
In case you are gasping or enduring any breathing problem, it is advisable that you use an inhaled bronchodilator, for instance albuterol (Proventil) or epinephrine (Primatene Mist) if any of these are available. These inhaled drugs help to widen the air passages. On the other hand, if you have a dizzy sensation or feel that you might faint, lie down immediately and lift your legs at a higher plane compared to your head with a view to facilitate blood flow to your brain.
In the event of having received an epinephrine kit for treating any allergic reaction on an earlier occasion, inject the medicine yourself according to the instructions. An epinephrine kit includes a pre-measured dosage of epinephrine, which is a prescription drug that annuls even the gravest symptoms of allergic reactions rapidly.
On the other hand, if any person becomes unconscious and stops inhalation or does not have a pulse owing to allergic reactions caused by poison ivy, onlookers ought to administer CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) to the victim. If it is probable, you or your friend who suffers these symptoms ought to be ready to tell the doctor or healthcare provider regarding your or your companion’s allergy history as well as all about the medications you generally take.
In addition you need to try your best to keep off the glossy and oily leaves of poison ivy, oak and sumac. It is important to note that one of the widespread rashes for children and adults who are fond of staying outdoors may be healed using a very common element found in most kitchen cabinets.
In effect baking soda pastes and baths are effective bath remedies for blistery rashes formed by exposure to poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac and the American Academy of Dermatology has approved this home remedy which helps to lessen the itching caused by these toxic plants.
Here are a few tips regarding what you can do to alleviate the itching caused by ivy poison. Rise, not scrub, your skin with warm water to remove the resinous oil of the noxious plant and subsequently add half a cup of fresh baking soda in your bath and immerse yourself for about 30 minutes.
When you are out of the bath, apply a paste prepared using baking soda and water in proportions of 3:1 on the affected area. Allow the paste to dehydrate on your skin. It is thought that baking soda helps to draw out the caustic urushiol (a toxic liquid) from the skin, thereby lessening the itching caused by it.
In the event of experiencing an acute reaction after coming in contact with either poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac, which results in allergic reactions, including itching and swelling, seek emergency medical aid. In many cases, the victim might require prescription drugs to decrease the swelling and itching.
Other beneficial herbs