Everyone loves a beautiful spring day. People enjoy comfortable temperatures for outdoor activities.
However, the wonderful contact with nature can cause problems too. If you develop an itchy, red rash after spending time outdoors, you may have brushed against a poison ivy plant.
Poison ivy is a plant in the family Anacardiaceae but isn’t a true Ivy (Hedera). The plant is a woody vine that is well known for its ability to produce urushiol, a skin irritant that causes an itching rash.
People who are sensitive to poison ivy can also experience a similar rash from mangoes, from the same family Anacardiaceae. The sap of the mango tree and skin of mangoes has a chemical compound similar to urushiol.
Certain plants in the Toxicodendron (formerly Rhus) genus contain this potent resin called urushiol, responsible for severe allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to it, approximately 85% of the population, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
The skin rash caused by urushiol is a form of “contact dermatitis.” It is a red, swollen, blistering rash that is both painful and itchy. Once developed, the rash is not contagious or spread by scratching but may become infected. The rash can be severe but it is self-limiting and it will eventually resolve with no treatment.
Prevention is truly the best cure for poison ivy. Wash and clean affected areas with dish soap as soon as possible to limit the reaction. Don’t forget to wash clothing, tools and other objects that may have come in contact to prevent re-exposure. Urushiol oil can remain active for several years, so avoid handling dead leaves or vines.
Reduce skin inflammation by covering the skin with a poison ivy relief ointment, generally made with natural ingredients. Some herbs may be helpful treating poison ivy such as Plantain Blood root, Calendula, Chickweed, Gumweed, Holy basil, Jewelweed, Menthol (topical), Peppermint (topical), Virginia snakeroot.