If you live in California, Alaska, or Hawaii... have no fear, poison ivy is usually not found in your state. For the other 47 states, beware! Poison ivy can grow in many forms including a ground-cover, shrub, or a climbing vine. With a very distinct leaf pattern of 3, this plant in easy to identify on the trail.
Most people will develop a rash after touching poison ivy that will last anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks. The rash comes as a result of having a reaction to the oil called urushiol as their skin touches the plant. Every part of the plant - the leaves, stem, roots, and flowers all contain this oil. One interesting fact is that if you burn this poisonous plant, you can actually release urushiol particles into the air which can later land on your skin and cause the rash. Also, it is not possible to get this rash from touching someone who has the rash. The skin absorbs the oil too quickly.
Natural remedies for treating poison ivy include: Baking soda baths, Oatmeal pastes, Aloe Vera gel, Rubbing a banana peel on your skin, using Jewelweed, and the most common - Calamine lotion. If you have a serious reaction, you will most likely need prescription medicine. Your dermatologist may prescribe a steroid ointment that you can apply to the skin.