KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Itching to know more about poison ivy? It's the most common allergy with two out of three people being allergic to it.
For most of us, the rash occurs after we've been exposed to poison ivy at least once before in our lives.
Bruce Chladny of K-State Extension in Wyandotte County reminds us that the old adage, "Leaves of three, let it be," definitely holds true.
"Not to confuse it with the five leaves of Virginia creeper. When you look at the plant, there's three leaflets and that means it's not good to touch," says Chladny.
The rash ia an allergic reaction to the oil in the plant.
"So when the oil comes from the plant onto your skin, it gets into your skin and your body has that allergic reaction. It could either be through exposure as you walk through the garden...could be from touching a tool or some sort of machinery or something like that that had been in an infested areas. Or off of pets," says Chladny.
If you think you've been exposed to poison ivy, use soap and cold water quickly to remove the oil from the skin. Chladny says it's important to use cold water because it keeps the pores of the skin closed.
You can't get poison ivy from another person's blister fluid. But Chladny says if there's residual oil on someone's skin and you touch that, you could get a rash.
To show you how powerful the oil is, five hundred people could itch just from the oil covering the head of a pin.
So how do you treat poison ivy? An over-the counter corticosteroid cream, calamine lotion, a cool bath with oatmeal or cool wet compresses. You may also want to try an antihistimine such as Benedryl to help you sleep.
See your doctor if the rash is widespread or on your face, if the blisters are oozing badly, or if the rash isn't better after a few weeks.