What Is Poison Ivy?


Quick Answer

Poison ivy is a plant that causes an allergic reaction in the form of a red, itchy rash when touched by skin. It is found throughout most of the United States except for in the Southwest, Alaska and Hawaii.

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What Is Poison Ivy?
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Full Answer

Poison ivy is vine that is often found along riverbanks and other wet areas. It is identified by its three shiny green leaves and red stem. Poison ivy secretes a sticky oil called urushiol that causes a rash from an allergic reaction called contact dermatitis. Brushing against or touching any part of the plant, including the roots, will transfer the oil, even if the plant is dead.

Poison ivy should not be burnt, as this will allow the oils to be come airborne. The oil from poison ivy can contaminate skin, clothing, pet fur and even nonporous materials such as gardening tools. Until the oils are washed off, they will continue to transfer via the items they have contaminated.

A rash from poison ivy is not contagious once it has been cleaned of the oils. Rashes from coming into contact with poison ivy can lead to fluid-filled blisters, small bumps and red streaks. Those who have a severe allergy to poison ivy may experience swelling and very large blisters that ooze.

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