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Expert Offers 7 Tips To Prevent, Treat Poison Ivy

Armen Hareyan's picture

Poison Ivy

Poison ivy is a very common allergic reaction, affecting 25-40 million annually.

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The old adage "leaves of three, let them be" is often easier said then done, especially if you plan on spending a lot of time outside this summer.

Each year, an estimated 25 to 40 million people in the United States will feel the infamous itch of poison ivy, a plant found throughout North America that typically grows in the form of a vine, often along riverbanks. For most people, this itchy rash will appear one or two days after they have been exposed to the plant, and it can last anywhere from 10 days to three weeks.

"The allergic reaction from poison ivy is caused by oil in the plant," says Lisa Hammer, M.D., a pediatrician at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital. "The reaction usually starts with redness and swelling of the skin, which is then followed by either bumps or blisters."

More than 50 percent of people are sensitive to this oil