Thursday, August 13, 2009

Poison Ivy and what to do when affected by it

Poison Ivy is a plant that is to be seen through most of North America and is known in two main varieties â€" Western, or Pacific, and Atlantic. The concern with Poison Ivy, which grows as ground cover and can eventually be seen as large bushes, is that it contains an oil â€" Urushiol â€" that, when it comes into contact with our skin, causes very irritating blistering and irritation.It is in our interest 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 operating against the poison, as it seeps into the skin, that is the root of the pain we undergo.Why Poison Ivy is poisonousIt may seem odd to us that at plant should be poisonous, but like most living things Poison Ivy has its part in the ecosystem. The way it grows is a guide as it is a source of shelter for lower growing plants and ground dwelling animals, and the majority of these are, unlike humans, not affected by the oil.Furthermore, Poison Ivy bears berries that are an important foodstuff for a number 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 concerned area. The skin will become a different colour and a burning irritation will occur, and in a short span blisters will form along with the rash.Suffering can persist for many weeks or may be gone 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 be aware of about Urushiol oil, and the first is that it is very potent indeed. Research has proven that a small amount of the oil the size of a pin-head could infect 500 people, and as it is not a water based substance it will not evaporate.The latter problem presents a major obstacle as it means the oil can stay on items it has been in contact with for as long as, and maybe longer than, a year. This presents the possibility of re-infection, or of a person who has not been in contact with the plant being contaminated. Clothes, shoes, tools and pets can all hold the oil, and the tiny amounts believed to cause suffering give it greater potency.Gloves and coats, and also boots, are among the most common causes of Poison Ivy infection and should be disinfected thoroughly if contamination is suspected.How an individual can become infectedThere are a variety of ways that an individual can come into contact with the oil from Poison Ivy, and transfer from already infected clothing and other items is one reason as we have already noted.The reason that we suffer when having been contaminated by the oil is because of the natural reaction it promotes, and it is notable that direct contact with the plant is not vital to induce a reaction.If Poison Ivy is burned the smoke is contaminated with vaporised oil, and even coming into contact with this smog can cause an attack. It has been said that a 100 year old item once affected a sufferer, an indication of how troublesome the plant can be.Anything that features the sap of the plant needs to be avoided, therefore, and dogs kept away from Poison Ivy bushes.How to help a sufferer of a Poison Ivy reactionIt is important that treatment is initiated immediately, and the best method is to wash the affected area in warm water. A second recommendation is to use a very potent antimicrobial soap and to do all one can to stop the patient from scratching, as this will spread the problem more.It is recommended to score the blisters, too, and to give the area of infection exposure to the air. Keeping blisters wrapped is imperative in order not to allow infection.Remember that it is solely the oil that will allow the infection to spread, so contact with it should be refrained from.The condition will, eventually, clear up completely, but there are treatments available for the irritation and for serious reactions. It is the choice of the individual whether to let it die naturally or to look for further help. Some lucky people are fortunate in that they have no sensitivity to Poison Ivy, but these are rare and most of us would be infected by coming into contact with the plant.If one knows of Poison Ivy the best advice one can give is the most logical â€" avoid it very carefully and don’t let your pet near it.--Nadeeka Johnson is an experienced article writer with over a 1,000 articles covering a wid variety of topical written at

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