Habitat and description
According to the Toxiplante website, this wild liana mainly found in North America (United States and Canada) but also in parts of Asia.
Often mistaken for ivy in its liana form, poison ivy is a plant that can also take on a bushy form (thus measuring no more than 1.5 m). Its leaves turn bright red in autumn and its flowers, united in clusters, are of a slightly greenish yellow color.
It is also recognized by its fleshy and hairless white fruit., which can make you think of a peach.
Symptoms of poison ivy
This plant gets its (almost) charming nickname from its resin. Indeed, once damaged, the plant secretes a substance composed of urushiols. It is a highly lipophilic molecule that infiltrates under the skin and clings to proteins in our body. All this creates an allergic reaction in humans can be very painful. Be careful, as this substance is oily, it is possible to come into contact with it indirectly (if it is present on clothing, tools or animal hair).
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In the case of poison ivy, symptoms appear as blisters (pimples and blisters) in the affected area and cause severe itching. The most concerning form of reaction to this plant is smoke inhalation.. The molecule being heat resistant and very volatile, it can thus spread inside the body and irritate the individual’s respiratory system. If this happens to you, see a doctor promptly.
You usually have to wait between 24 to 48 hours after contact with the plant for the first effects to be felt. In extreme cases, they appear after 8 hours for the most sensitive people and 2 weeks later for the most resistant. In general, the effect wears off 2 to 5 days after the first symptoms appear.
It is important to note that the first contact with the plant does not usually create any symptoms. Indeed, it is when the organism meets the molecule for the first time that it will identify it and assimilate it to a threat in order to be able to react to it in the future. It is therefore from the second contact that the reaction operates.
What to do to calm the poison ivy itch?
Several actions are possible to slow down, or even stem if done quickly after contact, the itching caused by climbing sumac.
The first thing you can do is wash the affected skin area, always with cold water. If done directly after contact with the plant, it can help prevent symptoms by closing the pores of the skin to block most of the toxin.
To relieve itching, apply antiseptics calamine compounds and bandages on the skin. Hydrocortisone creams (anti-inflammatory drugs) can also help dry out the blisters. Be careful with the use of antihistamines : avoid using them in the form of creams which could cause additional allergic reactions on contact with the toxin. The use of oral antihistamine may be considered to relieve pruritus.