How to deal with poison ivy poisoning

Poison ivy is a wild flowering plant with its characteristic set of 3 leaves in every leaf stem/stalk. If exposed to the plant, it can trigger itchy and painful rashes as a response of the body.

Accidental exposure to the leaves or other parts of the poison ivy plant is the usual cause for a reaction. Even inhaling smoke from a burning plant can also trigger an allergic reaction.

What are the signs?

The indications of poison ivy poisoning tend to vary from one person to another. In some cases, a reaction can be mild but in others it can be severe which is based on the exposure and specific reactions of the individual.

The usual signs of poison ivy poisoning typically include:

  • Itchiness at the site of contact

    Reddened skin rashes that can be painful, irritated and has a burning sensation.

  • Reddened skin rashes that can be painful, irritated and has a burning sensation
  • Rashes that appear striped or striated in pattern
  • The rashes might turn into blisters filled with fluid that can become large
  • If the plant has been ingested, it can cause a swollen mouth and damage the throat, esophagus and stomach.
  • Inhalation of smoke from a burning plant can trigger chest pain or tightness and respiratory issues.
  • In some individuals, an exposure to the poison ivy plant can trigger a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis with symptoms such as difficulty breathing, weakened pulse rate and shock.

These symptoms are likely to occur within 1-3 days after exposure to the plant. The severe stage of the skin symptoms might occur between day 4-7 of exposure.

Management of poison ivy poisoning

Call for emergency assistance if a life-threatening reaction occurs.

  • Check if the airways are protected and ensure that breathing and a pulse rate is present.
  • Cleanse the affected skin using water and soap right after a possible exposure to the poison ivy plant, preferably within the initial 30 minutes.
  • Remove or change clothing and footwear after possible exposure. They must be washed using hot water.
  • Over-the-counter applications such as hydrocortisone ointment, calamine lotion and Burow’s solution can be used.
  • Keeping the affected areas cool can lessen the itchiness since increased sweating can worsen the condition.
  • An oatmeal bath using mildly warm water can help alleviate the symptoms.
  • Antihistamines can be given to reduce the symptoms of poison ivy poisoning.

If the individual requires hospitalization, breathing support along with medications are given to manage the symptoms. In addition, an intravenous drip line might be started if needed.


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