When Should I Seek Medical Care If I Come In Contact With Poison IVy?
Poison ivy is a very dangerous plant that causes harm to human beings by an allergic reaction. This
plant contains the oil called urushiol which is very irritating to the skin and can cause a severe
reaction that could require medical attention.
The extent of the Poison ivy reaction depends on how good or bad your immune system is and it is
different with every person. Some may not have the rash right away; it will take them a number of
exposures first before having it. But some people react to it right away. And each individual’s body
reaction varies. Others may just have a slight rash; a valid reason for this is that it could be the
amount of urushiol that touched the skin is only small. The severity of the reaction depends on your
immune system; the better or stronger your immune system, the stronger the reaction. This is almost
unbelievable. If you have a strong immune system, you will have a severe reaction in most cases.
But others may have the poison ivy rash scattered throughout the body is primarily because a large
amount of urushiol touched it and also, possibly the person got the urushiol from clothing or from pets
which came in contact with it. This means the urishol oil touched several areas of your body from your
fingernails, from clothing or even from your pets fur. It is important to wash all your clothes and
your tools or camping gear as soon as possible so that you do not recontaminate yourself. The reaction on your skin most often does NOT require medical attention.
The times when the urishol oil DOES require medical attention is when a person goes into an anaphylactic shock. It is a severe and sometimes fatal systemic hypersensitivity reaction. This condition may occur within seconds from the time of exposure to urushiol and is commonly marked by respiratory distress and vascular collapse. The more quickly any systemic atopic reaction occurs in the individual after exposure, the more severe the associated shock is likely to be.
Another time when a person would require medical attention is when urushiol is inhaled (resulting from the burning of poison ivy) enters the systemic circulation and triggers an incomplete humoral response that allows the allergen to combine with IgE and cause the release of histamine. Also entering into the reaction are IgG and IgM, which cause the release of complement fractions, further stimulating histamine action.
Be watchful for signs that indicate a person needs medical care. The first symptoms for anaphylactic
shock are intense anxiety, weakness, sweating, and shortness of breath. Other symptoms may include hypotension, arrhythmia, respiratory congestion, laryngeal edema, nausea and diarrhea.
Additional signs that you should look out for and may signal you that it’s time to head to the hospital are when the rash reached the eyes already, including the mouth and genitals; when the blisters are oozing with pus which may be a sign that there is infection, and when you try to palpate it it’s tender to touch and feels warm and the wound appears red ; the person has a fever greater than 37.8 degrees Celsius possibly due to the infection and, when the rash is not getting any better within a few weeks.