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You can use the saying "leaves of three, leave it be" as a starting point, but it shouldn't be the only method you rely on. Eastern poison ivy is a vine with almond-shaped leaves in groups of three, while Western poison ivy is a shrub with small yellow berries. Look for leaves that change color in the fall and avoid touching plants with these features.
Urushiol is a chemical found in the sap of Toxicodendron plants, including poison ivy. It is responsible for causing contact dermatitis, an allergic skin reaction, when it comes into contact with human skin. Urushiol is lipophilic, meaning it is quickly absorbed by the skin upon exposure.
Severe poison ivy rashes may be treated with topical or systemic corticosteroids. These are types of medications that can reduce inflammation. If the rash is severe, your doctor may prescribe a dose of a medicine called prednisone for 5-7 days to relieve itchines.
You should monitor for increasing redness, warmth or discharge from the site of a healing contact site. This can indicate a secondary skin infection, which can result in a local infection (cellulitis) or a systemic infection (sepsis) that can become dangerous and life-threatening. Cellulitis and sepsis are exceedingly rare following contact dermatitis.
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- 2.Sheehan, M.P. Avocational Contact Dermatitis—Pearls for Recognition and Management. Curr Treat Options Allergy 2, 322–332 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40521-015-0065-x
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