Keeping your baby safe from harmful plants such as poison ivy is not as easy as you would think. While we were told to stay away from plants with three leaves, certain poisonous plants can have up to nine leaves and may even be in the form of a bush, making it hard to recognize.
Let’s say your family just took a great trip, and let’s say you came back with poison ivy. Aside from itching, you are worried you are going to give it to everyone in your house, including your baby.
There is no need to worry, because poison ivy is not contagious. In order to get poison ivy, you have to either touch the plant directly, or touch an object that had the poison ivy oils on it, such as a gardening tool. And the liquid in the blisters cannot spread poison ivy when they are popped.
Can I Give My Baby Poison Ivy? Answer: It’s Not Contagious
The poison ivy rash, known a contact dermatitis, can first appear as streaks or lines where the skin came into contact with the poisonous plant. A full blown rash usually occurs 12 to 48 hours after the initial contact, though in some cases, it may take up to a year. After the rash, blisters will usually appear, which will become crusty after a few days.
Poison ivy is very itchy, and unfortunately, it has no cure. You have to let it run its course, which can take anywhere from 14 to 20 days. There are remedies you can do to relieve the itch and prevent infection, including cool compresses or cool baths, rubbing the affected area with an ice cube, and use calamine lotion on the affected area.
What to Do if Exposed
If your baby is the one who got poison ivy, it is a good idea to call your baby’s doctor. If the rash is on your baby’s face or genitals, your baby is running a fever, or if the rash lasts longer than two weeks, you need to call the doctor right away. If the rash is severe, your child’s doctor may give him or her an oral antihistamine or oral steroid to stop the inflammation and help relieve the itching.
If you notice a new rash on your baby days after the first one appears, it does not mean the rash has spread. Some parts of the body take longer to show the rash, especially areas of the body with thicker skin. New rashes can appear if your baby continues to be exposed to the oil, which can linger under their fingernails or on their clothing.
Also, if you have a pet, their fur may hold on to the oil rather than absorb it, which will spread the disease to anyone who comes in contact with it. If you think your pet may be the culprit, it is best to wash them right away to try to remove the oils from their fur.
If you think your baby has been exposed to poison ivy, but you have yet to see a rash, you should immediately rinse the affected area with a lot cool running water. If you do not use enough water, you could easily spread the oil around on the skin, making the affected area even bigger. After you have thoroughly rinsed the area, give your baby a bath with soap and water. And make sure to wash your baby’s clothes and toys (wear rubber gloves).
Avoidance is the Best Remedy
The only way to avoid catching poison ivy is to not come into contact with it. If your family plans on being in an area where poison ivy is present, dress your baby in long pants, socks and a long sleeve shirt. You can also ask your doctor about preventative ointment, which can be rubbed on just like sunscreen. And as soon as you come home, be sure to change your baby’s clothes and give them a bath.
So just remember, if you or someone in your household (excluding pets) gets poison ivy, they cannot pass it on to other members of your house. The only way to get poison ivy is to come into contact with the plant itself or the oils, which can stay on toys and tools.
If you have any questions about poison ivy, or if you think your child may have gotten it, consult your child’s physician. They will be able to discuss your concerns and help alleviate the itching.