"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Poison Ivy: Scratch like a hound?

Earlier this summer, I got a case of poison ivy that was so bad, I woke up in the course of the night with my fingernails clawing at my arms. Scratch like a hound, because the Coasters famously sang. I believed I knew the right way to avoid this noxious plant, which I've seen in my neighborhood and on nearby mountaineering trails.

How are you able to be exposed to poison ivy?

Brushing against any a part of the plant or touching anything that comes into contact with the plant – your clothes, shoes, garden tools, or your pet – may cause an allergic response. I don't remember him being near any poison ivy, nevertheless it's possible that my dog ​​wandered near a patch and after we got home from a walk I got the oil on my hands and arms.

Wash quickly to avoid a case of poison ivy.

If you're exposed to urushiol, wash the skin with soap and water (dish soap is best) as soon as possible, ideally inside an hour. “You need to wash anything that might have been contaminated—not just your clothes, but other things you don't normally wash, like your jacket and shoes,” says Dr. Waldman. . Once my rash cleared up and I noticed I had poison ivy, I scrubbed my dog ​​and washed his leash and leash, together with the shoes I wear for walks.

A rash may not develop immediately.

You may develop symptoms — a red, itchy rash that sometimes blisters — 4 hours to 4 days after you were exposed to ursival. Why the long break? The rash brought on by poison ivy is a type of allergic contact dermatitis. It is mediated by T cells, immune cells that recognize and attack foreign substances—on this case, skin proteins that react with urosheol.

This response differs from more familiar allergies, resembling to cats, dogs, or mold, that are immediate hypersensitivity reactions. These occur inside minutes and are mediated by histamine, a chemical that plays a task in reactions resembling a runny nose and watery eyes.

Since I didn't realize I had been exposed to urchiol, I unknowingly transferred the oil to other parts of my body, including my torso. Fortunately, once the oil washes off, the rash isn't contagious — you possibly can't spread it to other parts of your body or to other people, Dr. Waldman says.

Poison Ivy Treatment: Start with over-the-counter remedies.

For mild cases of poison ivy, easy treatments could also be enough, says Dr. Yu, who treats patients within the Contact Dermatitis and Occupational Dermatology Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital. A skinny layer of topical 1% hydrocortisone cream on the affected area may also help, if you may have a really mild case on one arm or leg, says Dr. Yu. She suggests you furthermore mght try topical anti-itch products, resembling calamine lotion or serna lotion with menthol.

For me, hydrocortisone cream didn't help. “Once poison ivy spreads, topical hydrocortisone is like spraying water on a forest fire,” says Dr. Yu. A friend dropped in a rash relief spray that provided soothing but short-term relief. Another suggested I try the antihistamine diphenhydramine (Benadryl), an over-the-counter allergy medicine. Dr. Yu says this is just not helpful because histamine doesn't play a major role in poison ivy. “The only benefit you can get from Benadryl is sleep,” he says. And indeed, it made me sleepy, but I used to be still itchy and really restless.

So, what works if over-the-counter treatments don't help and symptoms are interfering together with your life? A healthcare provider may prescribe oral steroids. In fact, after I visited an urgent care clinic and commenced taking the oral steroids prescribed by the doctor, I felt a lot better. Be sure to follow dosage instructions rigorously: It is very important to taper oral steroids, which suggests step by step reducing doses over three weeks to avoid possible flare-ups. And at all times seek the advice of a physician if a poison ivy rash involves sensitive parts of the body, resembling the face or groin.