Poison ivy is a woody vine that clings to trees and comes in a cluster of three leaves. Poison ivy has a resinous coating called urushiol which causes severe skin irritation when it comes in contact with skin. It is also called urushiol induced contact dermatitis and is mostly contacted by small kids playing in woody areas and by campers. It grows extensively in wooded areas around exposed rocks and open fields.
Poison ivy grows as a trailing vine, climbing vine or a self supporting shrub. Once a person comes in contact with poison ivy, he will have a lot of red rashes on his skin along with severe itching. In extreme cases the itching can develop into reddish inflammation and blistering. A poison ivy rash can last anywhere from one week to four weeks depending upon the severity of the condition. In some rare cases medical attention might be necessary.
How Long Does Poison Ivy Take to Heal
Poison ivy rash can appear as early as 3 to 4 hours or as late as 7 to 10 days after exposure to the plant. It all depends upon the level of sensitivity of the individual to the plant. The allergic reaction can be triggered by direct contact with any poison ivy plant part, be it the leaf, stem or tendrils. It also spreads through indirect contact. The compound urushiol that is found in the plant is very contagious and as such a person can get poison ivy rash merely by touching objects that has been contaminated with urushiol, like gardening tools and camping equipment.
The duration of a poison ivy rash depends upon the person's sensitivity and how the urushiol is absorbed in the skin. Generally poison ivy rash lasts for a week or two but in some cases it might take as long as four weeks for the rashes and inflammation to subside. If by any chance the poison ivy plants are burned and the smoke gets into the nasal passages, the rash will appear on the lining of the lungs causing pain and difficulty in breathing. Since the compound urushiol found in poison ivy plants is very active in nature, it can remain even after the plant is dead. So a person has to be extra careful while handling such dead vines as it could cause poison ivy rash. Urushiol is extremely difficult to get off as it binds on the skin within 10 to 20 minutes after initial contact.
How to Get Rid of Poison Ivy Rash
The poison ivy rash itself is not contagious but since the affected person feels extremely itchy, it is best to apply calamine lotion and hydrocortisone cream. Once you are certain that you have come in contact with poison ivy, you should wash the affected area with cold water to remove urushiol from skin. You can also apply a cool compress to reduce inflammation and swelling. Having a lukewarm oatmeal bath might greatly help to soothe itchy skin. Home remedies for treating poison ivy rash includes rubbing the affected area with the inner side of a banana peel and applying fresh aloe vera gel. If creams and lotions are not helping to reduce itchiness and inflammation then it is best to take antihistamine tablets prescribed by a doctor.
Although these medicines and lotions will help to reduce the symptoms, as to the question how long does poison ivy last, the answer is still one to four weeks. Poison ivy treatments can only provide relief but you cannot speed up the healing process. Since the urushiol found in poison ivy plant is extremely contagious, it is best to wash your clothes and shoes with soap and hot water so that the plant oil is destroyed. Wash any objects or tools that the person having poison ivy rash has touched like doorknobs and utensils with dilute bleach solution or alcohol.
How long does poison ivy stay in your system? Well as soon as your rash clears up, it is an indication that poison ivy is no longer in your system. The best way to prevent a poison ivy rash is to become familiar with the way the plant looks. Once you are able to identify the plant, you can take steps to avoid it.