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At some point, 75% of people will develop a rash from contact with poison ivy which can lead to red skin, itching, and significant discomfort. However, there are some misconceptions about contact with poison ivy and exposure to the plant's irritating oils. Awareness of the plant, method of transmission, and treatment can help alleviate many potential issues. First, poison ivy is a three leaved plant found commonly in wooded areas throughout the United States. Contact with poison ivy alone will not cause irritation, the plant actually has to be broken releasing the oils onto the skin. However, it is important to note that the oils from the plant remain viable on objects for quite some time. If exposed to poison ivy, it is possible that a reaction will occur within the following 7-10 days. Poison ivy reactions are often found on patches of the skin which make contact, though inhaling the fumes of burning poison ivy can cause a reaction on the face. The best method of avoiding irritation is to stay clear of the poison ivy plant. After any time spent outdoors with gardening tools or camping gear, these items should be cleaned thoroughly after use. However, since exposure is still possible, there are various treatments including calamine lotion, cortisone cream, and in extreme cases prescription oral steroids.
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