New Research Found To Stop Poison Ivy's Itch

By Czarina Ara Lasco

Nov 09, 2016 05:11 AM EST

The new method is found to be effective as it was tested on mice, researchers reported.

Study Senior Author Sven-Eric Jordt said, "Poison ivy rash is the most common allergic reaction in the U.S., and studies have shown that higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are creating a proliferation of poison ivy throughout the U.S. - even in places where it wasn't growing before."

Jordt is currently an associate professor of anesthesiology at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, N.C.

"When you consider doctor visits, the costs of the drugs that are prescribed and the lost time at work or at school, the societal costs are quite large," Professor Jordt furthered.

Annually, over 350,000 people are affected by poison ivy in the United States alone after direct contact with poisonous plants. Even though it is not really life-threatening, the condition caused by poison ivy is very painful and could result to a significant health care costs.

Urushiol-induced contact dermatitis is the allergic reaction caused by poison ivy. In extreme cases, a reaction can progress to anaphylaxis. Around 15% to 30% of people have no allergic reaction to urushiol, but most people will have a greater reaction with repeated or more concentrated exposure.

According to the said study, in mice that have poison ivy rashes, blocking an immune system protein in the skin with an antibody stopped the process that sends a message to the brain that the skin is itchy.

The researchers said in an interview with the Duke news, the said approach might show the way to discovering new treatments for the 80 percent of people who are allergic to poison ivy. However, researches made in animals do not always turn out to be the same with the results in humans.

On November 7, the study on poison ivy tested on mice was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Jordt also said that antihistamines and steroids could also ease some of the symptoms of skin rashes caused by poison ivy.

Toxicodendron radicans, commonly known as eastern poison ivy or poison ivy, is a poisonous Asian and North American flowering plant that is well known for causing an itching, irritating, and sometimes painful rash in most people who touch it, caused by urushiol, a clear liquid compound in the plant's sap.

The species is variable in its appearance and habit, and despite its common name it is not a true ivy (Hedera), but rather a member of the cashew family. Toxicodendron radicans is commonly eaten by many animals, and the seeds are consumed by birds, but poison ivy is most often thought of as an unwelcome weed.

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