What Causes Poison Ivy Reactions?
Posted on April 10, 2020 at 12:00 PM by Tom Swegle
Poison ivy rashes are painful and irritating.
If you come in contact with the oils secreted by this widespread plant, either directly or indirectly, you will likely end up with redness, itching, blisters, and swelling. All reactions to poison ivy are caused by varying degrees of allergy to the plant. While you may have never experienced a poison ivy rash, you are certainly at risk of one day experiencing it firsthand.
Primary Factors Contributing to the Occurrences of Poison Ivy.
The top three factors that contribute to occurrences of poison ivy include...
Poison ivy is one of the most widespread plants throughout North America. It grows and thrives in all U.S states, except California, Alaska, and Hawaii, as well as in all of lower Canada and parts of Mexico. The plant can be found in a variety of forms in each location, such as climbing vines, small shrubs, and ground coverings. While some people assume poison ivy is only an issue in the woods or other places of nature untouched by man, poison ivy is a common nuisance in backyards, walkways, gardens, and any place where the plant can receive enough sunlight and rain to prosper.
The other main factor affecting the occurrences of poison ivy is allergies. While some people are immune to the effects of the plant, some people will have a reaction ranging from mild to severe. Up to 85% of people have a poison ivy allergy to some degree. While only 15-25% of people have reactions severe enough to send them to the hospital, many people will suffer the painful consequences of poison ivy rash at home.
3. Risk Factors
Aside from the location and severity of individual allergies, some people are more at risk for poison ivy rashes. Young children, who often lack the foresight to watch out for dangerous plants, are more likely to contract a poison ivy rash than adults. Other common at-risk groups are hikers and gardeners. Even with proper training on how to avoid poison ivy, accidental brush ups can happen while going for a hike or tending to the garden without gloves.
Once I get poison ivy, does my allergy change?
Many people may be surprised to learn that poison ivy rashes are not actually caused by the plant. They are caused by an individual’s allergy to the plant. Not everyone will develop the painful, blistering rash associated with the poison ivy plant after contact. While these people are lucky, they are also a minority. It is estimated that up to 85% of people have some level of allergic reaction to poison ivy. If you are one of the many routinely affected by this poisonous culprit, you may have some questions.
Do Poison Ivy Allergies Change?
The truth about poison ivy allergies is complicated. The allergy is not one you are born with like other allergies. It is acquired after the initial encounter with poison ivy. The initial encounter will not result in a rash for most people so they will falsely assume they are immune to poison ivy or have no allergy. The second encounter will determine if there is truly an absence of allergy to the plant for most people. For some individuals, the second encounter may not even be the one to trigger a rash. It may take several encounters for the first rash to occur. In fact, people who are considered immune can actually develop an allergy to poison ivy by repeated exposure. Poison ivy allergies are always changing.
How Do I Protect Myself?
If you are one of the many affected by poison ivy allergies, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself from future rashes. The most important element is education. You should be aware of identifying factors to be aware of for poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. Being able to easily identify the leaves, stems, and vines of these plants will help you avoid them. Another great idea is to wear long pants, long sleeves, and gloves when in the areas where poison ivy is known to inhabit such as gardens and woods.
Another effective method is the use of a supplement such as Outdoor Joe's® to help your body reduce sensitivity over time. This oral solution can reduce sensitivity and lessen reaction severity in as little as three doses.