Monday, July 6, 2009

Poison Ivy and what it means to you when affected by it

Poison Ivy is a plant that is widely found through most of North America and is available in two main varieties – Western, or Pacific, and Atlantic. The importance with Poison Ivy, which grows as ground cover and can eventually be seen as large bushes, is that it contains an oil – Urushiol – that, when it comes into contact with our skin, causes very unpleasant blistering and irritation.
It is imperative to understand that the oil occurs not just in the leaves but in all of the plant, including the root and the stem, and it is the immune system pushing against the poison, as it seeps into the skin, that is the originator of the pain we experience.
Why Poison Ivy is poisonous
It may seem pointless to us that at plant should be poisonous, but like the best living things Poison Ivy has its position in the ecosystem. The way it grows is a clue as it is a source of shelter for lower growing plants and ground dwelling animals, and the majority of those are, unlike humans, not affected by the oil.
Furthermore, Poison Ivy supplies berries that are an important foodstuff for a variety of bird species.
How to identify the symptoms and more about Urushiol oil.
The patient will very quickly undergo irritation in the skin, mixed with severe itching and inflammation in the infected area. The skin will become a different colour and a burning feeling will occur, and in a short span blisters will form along with the rash.
Suffering can be endure for many weeks or may be done with within days, and every case is different. It is suggested that cooling the skin is a good antidote and also prevents further infection.
There are a number of important facts that people need to understand about Urushiol oil, and the first is that it is very potent indeed. Research has displayed that a small amount of the oil the size of a pin-head could spread to 500 people, and as it is not a water based substance it will not evaporate.
The latter problem presents a major difficulty as it means the oil can stick to on items it has been in contact with for as long as, and maybe longer than, a year. This gives us the possibility of re-infection, or of an individual who has not been in contact with the plant being affected. Clothes, shoes, tools and pets can all be party to the oil, and the miniscule amounts necessary to cause suffering give it greater potency.
Gloves and coats, along with boots, are among the most obvious causes of Poison Ivy infection and should be disinfected thoroughly if contamination is suspected.
How an individual can become infected
There are numerous ways that an individual can come into contact with the oil from Poison Ivy, and transfer from affected clothing and other items is one reason as we have already noted.
The reason that we suffer when having come into contact with the oil is because of the instant reaction it promotes, and it is notable that direct contact with the plant is not essential to induce a reaction.
If Poison Ivy is burned the smoke is mixed with vaporised oil, and even coming into contact with this smog can induce an attack. It has been said that a 100 year old item once affected a person, an indication of how much troube the plant can be.
Anything that has touched the sap of the plant has to be avoided, therefore, and dogs kept away from Poison Ivy bushes.
How to look after a sufferer of a Poison Ivy reaction
It is important that treatment is started immediately, and the best method is to wash the problematic area in warm water. A second recommendation is to use a very powerful antimicrobial soap and to do all one can to stop the patient from scratching, as this will spread the problem more.
It is essential to crack the blisters, too, and to give the area of infection exposure to the air. Keeping blisters bandaged is vital in order not to allow infection.
Remember that it is simply the oil that will invite the infection to spread, so contact with it should be limited.
The condition will, in a while, clear up by itself, but there are treatments available for the irritation and for the worst reactions. It is the choice of the individual whether to let it die naturally or to invite further help. Some individuals are fortunate in that they have no sensitivity to Poison Ivy, but these are few and far between and most of us would be infected by coming into contact with the ivy.
If one sees Poison Ivy the best advice a man can give is the most obvious – avoid it very carefully and don’t let your pet near it. Photobucket

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