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Posion Ivy

Posion Oak

 

The first symptom of poisoning is a severe itching of the skin. Later, a red inflammation and a blistering of the skin occurs. In severe cases, oozing sores develop. The rash spreads by the poisonous sap (urushiol), not as the result of contamination from sores. The blood vessels develop gaps that leak fluid through the skin, causing blisters and oozing. When you cool the skin, the vessels constrict and don't leak as much according to Robert Rietschel, M.D. Chairman of Dermatolgy at New Orleans' Ochsner Clinic.

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Symptoms

Most people develop symptoms 24-48 hours after contact. The interval varies considerably, because of individual sensitivity and the amount of sap contacting the skin. Healed areas often remain supersensitive to further contact for several months.

The first symptom of poisoning is a severe itching of the skin. Later, a red inflammation and a blistering of the skin occurs. In severe cases, oozing sores develop. The rash spreads by the poisonous sap, not as the result of contamination from sores. Although extremely irritating, most cases disappear in a week or 10 days. In the meantime, relief may be found through the application of medication available in most drugstores. However, severe rashes, especially those covering large areas or accompanied by above-normal body temperatures, should be examined by a physician. Medical treatment is most effective if applied before the oozing sores appear.

Treatment

Wash infected skin as soon as possible with cold water to minimize the severity of the rash and prevent the spread of the sap to uninfected parts of the body. Unfortunately, your skin absorbs the active compounds in the sap within the first 3 minutes, and you cannot prevent the dermatitis without medical treatment. Soap and water are superior to water alone in removing the sap, but they also temporarily remove a natural protective layer that helps keep the active compounds from being absorbed through the skin.

Prevention

The most common way to get a rash from a poisonous plant is to come in contact with the plant oil. Once you have the rash it cannot be spread to other parts of your body or to another person by touching the blisters or the fluid. The rash is spread by the plant oil on the hands, for example, wiping the forehead with the hand.

Learn to recognize and avoid the plant. If you find the plant growing in your yard, use gloves to pull it up by the roots, and discard the plant carefully, then discard or wash the gloves. When walking through wooded areas, wear long pants and long sleeves.

Brushing up against the plant's leaves seldom results in breaking out in a rash because the plant's oil is not released unless the stem or leaf surface is broken. However, if you are exposed to the plant oil, wash the affected area with cold water as soon as possible. Carefully remove all exposed clothing and wash it. Wash off all camping and sporting gear as well, if there is a chance that it has been contaminated.

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