Poison ivy rashes are painful and irritating. If you come in contact with the oils secreted by this widespread plant, either directly or indirectly, you will likely end up with redness, itching, blisters, and swelling. All reactions to poison ivy are caused by varying degrees of allergy to the plant. While you may have never experienced a poison ivy rash, you are certainly at risk of one day experiencing it firsthand. There are several factors contributing to occurrences of poison ivy.
Poison ivy is one of the most widespread plants throughout North America. It grows and thrives in all U.S states, except California, Alaska, and Hawaii, as well as in all of lower Canada and parts of Mexico. The plant can be found in a variety of forms in each location, such as climbing vines, small shrubs, and ground coverings. While some people assume poison ivy is only an issue in the woods or other places of nature untouched by man, poison ivy is a common nuisance in backyards, walkways, gardens, and any place where the plant can receive enough sunlight and rain to prosper.
The other main factor affecting the occurrences of poison ivy is allergies. While some people are immune to the effects of the plant, some people will have a reaction ranging from mild to severe. Up to 85% of people have a poison ivy allergy to some degree. While only 15-25% of people have reactions severe enough to send them to the hospital, many people will suffer the painful consequences of poison ivy rash at home.
Aside from location and severity of individual allergies, some people are more at risk for poison ivy rashes. Young children, who often lack the foresight to watch out for dangerous plants, are more likely to contract a poison ivy rash than adults. Other common at-risk groups are hikers and gardeners. Even with proper training on how to avoid poison ivy, accidental brush ups can happen while going for a hike or tending to the garden without gloves.