How Is the Body System Affected by Poison Ivy?
Urushiol, the oil present in poison ivy, could cause harm to the body. When a person is exposed to it, he may experience allergic reactions. But some people do not react to it right away. It really depends with every individual, and the number of times he had been exposed to the oil. Some may have the reaction after a few hours of exposure, and others may have a delayed response. It takes them a week or more, usually up to ten days. The reason for the delayed response is that it takes time for the body to produce the certain T-cells.
The T-cells are small circulating lymphocytes produced in the bone marrow that matures in the thymus or as a result of exposure to thymosin secreted by the thymus. They live for many years and have several functions in the body but primarily mediate cellular immune responses. They are like guards and soldiers who look out for the invaders in the body.
In exposure to poison ivy, the oil clings to the skin. Because of that, the person experiences itching, and rashes appear. The rashes at the beginning usually look like small red bumps. Later, it turns into blisters in varying size. Some may appear small, some large. The rashes may ooze, but put into mind that it does not spread the poison. It is only spread by being exposed to the oil again, wherein it stays usually on the clothing and shoes used. When poison ivy is burned, it is very dangerous and poses a great risk to those people who would be able to inhale its smoke.
Rashes may occur in the lining of the lungs, causing extreme pain and difficulty in breathing. When poison ivy is eaten, it may damage the mucus lining of the mouth as well as the digestive tract. Poison ivy rash usually lasts from one to four weeks, depending on the severity and treatment received by the person. In some cases, anaphylaxis may occur.
Anaphylaxis is an exaggerated hypersensitivity reaction to a previously encountered antigen. The response, which is mediated by antibodies of the IgE class of immunoglobulins, causes the release of histamine, kinin, and substances that affect smooth muscle. In severe cases, bronchospasm and shock may occur. The severity of symptoms depends on the original sensitizing dose of the antigen, the amount and distribution of antibodies, and the route of entry and size of the dose of antigen producing anaphylaxis.