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Poison ivy is a common plant that grows like weeds across the ground or like vines up a tree. Poison ivy contains urushiol, a type of oil that causes an allergic reaction in most people when it contacts the skin, causing a red, itchy rash.
A poison ivy rash usually develops on the skin within one to two days after coming in contact with the plant, and begins as a red, swollen area that eventually develops blisters and starts to itch. Patients are encouraged to not scratch the blisters, as bacteria from your fingers may lead to an infection.
Poison ivy usually goes away on its own within a week, although larger affected areas may take longer to clear up. Patients can help relieve symptoms of poison ivy by using over-the-counter medications such as hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion, antihistamines and oatmeal baths.
While most cases of poison ivy are not serious, it is important to see your doctor if you experience any abnormal symptoms such as a high fever, a rash across a large area of the body or one that does not improve after a few days.
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