Poison ivy grows as a shrub or vine in wooded areas or fields; it is recognizable by three bright green leaves on each stem of the plant. Exposure to the plant can cause an allergic reaction to urushiol (u-roo-she-ol), an oil found in the leaves, stems, and roots of poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. The reaction results in an uncomfortable, itchy rash for those in contact with the plant. Occasionally when the urushoil is exposed to the air and gets on the skin, it may turn black in color.
Three types of contact can occur:
- Direct contact between the plant and skin
- Touching garage equipment, gardening tools, or other objects that have come in direct contact with the plant
- Airborne contact from burning these plants which can result in urushiol particles entering the nose, eyes, mouth, or respiratory system
85 percent of Americans will have a reaction to poison ivy that includes red patches, itching, swelling, blisters that leak fluid and later scab, inflammation, and a burning sensation. learn more