Having much more time to check out nature is a sweet perk that summer, but dealing v a poison ivy rash that pops up after trekking with greenery isn’t the ideal method to end your outdoor adventures.

Poison ivy is found in most parts of the U.S., except Alaska, Hawaii, and also parts of the West Coast, according to the Food and also Drug management (FDA). That can thrive as one of two people a vine or a small shrub that trails along the ground, and it deserve to climb on short plants, trees, and poles. Poison ivy is usually identified by its 3 shiny leaves that bud from one tiny stem, the FDA says.

But here’s the tricky part: toxicity ivy can change color. The leaves space reddish in the spring, environment-friendly in the summer, and yellow, orange, or red in the fall. It can likewise have greenish-white flowers and also whitish-yellow berries.

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So, what have to you carry out if you come into call with this pesky plant? Below, doctors describe the ideal treatment for a poison ivy rash, just how long you deserve to expect it come last, and also when it’s time come rope in your doctor for reinforcements.

Why does poison ivy cause a rash?

Poison ivy, oak, and sumac every contain one oil dubbed urushiol the most civilization are allergy to, according to the American Academy of dermatology (AAD). As a result, pretty lot everyone who comes into call with this plants establishes a rash anywhere in between a couple of hours to 3 weeks after ~ exposure (depending on even if it is or no you have been exposed to it before).

“Poison ivy causes an allergic call dermatitis, which method that your immune system becomes sensitized come the urushiol and also mounts an inflammation response,” claims Joshua Zeichner, M.D., manager of cosmetic and also clinical study in skin science at mountain Sinai Hospital in new York City. “This converts to a red, itchy rash the may end up being extensive or also lead to blistering in severe cases.”

What does a poison ivy rash look at like?


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Poison ivy can cause red, itchy, blistery bump to kind on the skin, and also they’re not commonly in any specific pattern, says Gary Goldenberg, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of dermatology in ~ the Icahn institution of medication at mountain Sinai in new York City.

The rash often tends to mimic the method you come into contact with the poison ivy. For example, if you brushed follow me the plant, it could leave a rash in a heat on your skin. “New blisters may continue to appear for up to two weeks,” Dr. Goldenberg says. “The locations with most exposure appear first and those with least exposure show up later.”

What go a toxicity ivy rash feel like? Is the contagious?

It’s mostly very itchy. The AAD claims that the itch can be so intense that it can wake you increase while you’re sleeping. “Some patients may experience skin burning and also pain,” Dr. Goldenberg says.

While severe allergic reaction to toxicity ivy have the right to happen, they’re “more rare,” adds Purvi Parikh, M.D., one allergist with Allergy & Asthma Network. The complying with symptoms space a sign of a severe reaction and also require prompt medical care:

difficulty breathing or swallowing A rash around one or both eyes, her mouth, or top top your genitals Swelling on your face, specifically if an eye swells shut Itching that worsens or renders it difficult to sleep rash on most of her body A fever

While the decision is not contagious itself, you have the right to still construct a rash if girlfriend touch an additional person’s skin or clothing while the oil from the poison ivy is tho on it.

The finest treatment for a poison ivy rash

If you know you come into call with toxicity ivy, the AAD recommends taking off the clothing you to be wearing and thoroughly washing them. Then, rinse your skin through lukewarm, soapy water to wash off the urushiol. If it’s no washed off, the oil deserve to spread from person to person and to other areas of your body the weren’t initially exposed to the plant, Dr. Zeichner says.


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After that, there’s only so much you have the right to do to rate up the rash’s heal process. “The rash typically resolves in 3 to four weeks without treatment,” Dr. Goldenberg says.

However, there are some home remedies that can assist make you an ext comfortable while the toxicity ivy rash heals:

✔️ Take quick oatmeal or baking soda baths. The AAD proposal soaking in a lukewarm bath v a colloidal oatmeal preparation (you can find it at your regional drugstore or online) to help with the itch. Adding one cup of baking soda to running water in a bath can also aid relieve the must scratch. This is important, as incessant itching have the right to break the skin and also raise your hazard of infection.

✔️Use calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream.

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Calamine lotion deserve to offer itch relief, Dr. Goldenberg says. And, if you have actually a soft case, using hydrocortisone cream or lotion can additionally help.