Poison ivy rashes can sneak up on people. While you may have been careful to knowingly avoid plants with three leaves while on your latest outdoor adventure to the woods or the park, the oils from these plants can be carried on a variety of sources, from clothing to pets. Since many rashes can look similar, telling apart poison ivy induced rashes requires some basic knowledge about what to look for. What does a poison ivy rash look like?
A poison ivy rash often develops on skin that has been exposed to either direct contact with leaves of poison ivy or from direct or indirect contact with the oils emitted from the poison ivy plant. The rash most often occurs in common places, such as arms, legs, and hands, which are easily exposed to the elements. However, if there are oils on the hand, and you touch your face or any other part of the body, the rash will spread to those areas as well. The rash is not contagious so it will not spread on its own. It will only spread if the oil spreads from one place to another.
While some rashes can look similar to poison ivy, there are some telltale signs it is poison ivy and not simply skin irritation. So what does a poison ivy rash look like? The first sign of poison ivy rash is often lines along the skin that suffered exposure to the plant. These red lines are where the leaves came in contact with the skin, so they are often thin. If you did not come in contact with the leaves, but rather the oil, the lines may cover a larger area or may not resemble lines and may look more like red spots. When determining if it poison ivy rash, the other signs are redness of the affected area, small red bumps which will turn into larger blisters filled with white fluid, excessive itchiness, and in most cases swelling of the inflicted area. While these signs of poison ivy are accompanied by pain and irritation, medical treatment is rarely needed for mild reactions. It can be treated at home with proper cleaning of the area and an over-the-counter topical cream.