Rashes can develop from a host of conditions such as food allergies, pollen or insect stings, pet dander and also from plants. One common rash type resulting from plants like poison ivy or poison oak is Rhus Dermatitis. Such rashes are produced by the oil urushiol contained in different plants like lacquer tree, poison sumac, and poison ivy. The medical name given to Rhus Dermatitis is Urushiol-induced contact dermatitis. However, the phytocannabinoid CBD is stacked with antioxidant, antihistamine and anti-inflammatory attributes that can help to combat allergic rashes, dermatitis and various kinds of skin allergies.

What Rhus Dermatitis Is All About

Poison Ivy is also called Rhus Dermatitis, is a kind of skin rash resulting from contact with the resin of plants from the Rhus genus and Anacardiaceae family. Such plants include poison ivy, poison sumac, and poison oak. The resin is known as urushiol and can be found in the mango tree, cashew tree, Japanese lacquer tree, ginkgo biloba, and marking nut tree.
Rhus Dermatitis or Poison Ivy occurs when an individual comes into contact with the leaf or internal portions of the stem or root. The rash normally develops within 8 to 48 hours of being exposed to the plant. It generally appears in a circular or linear pattern with red blotches hidden in pain causing blisters.
The resin is active until three weeks after exposure and can spread to the rest if they come in contact with the clothing of an affected person. On the contrary, the fluid inside the blisters does not spread the rash. The rash generally heals around three weeks and poison ivy occurs on the legs, arms, and face. The intensity of the rash differs as it depends on an individual’s sensitivity to the resin and also the level of exposure.
Cases of contact dermatitis within the United States arise mainly from poison ivy, poison sumac, and poison oak compared to other causes.

Symptoms Of Rhus Dermatitis

Similar to contact dermatitis cases, Rhus Dermatitis is an urushiol-induced rash and is also referred to as Type IV hypersensitivity reaction or delayed-type hypersensitivity. However, some of its symptoms include:

  • Itching
  • Inflammation
  • In acute cases, a burning sensation
  • oozing
  • Blistering after 48 hours following urushiol contact
  • Poison ivy rash with inflammation about 3 days following direct contact.

Poison ivy dermatitis surfaces as early as 4 hours or as late as 10 days following the exposure, based on individual sensitivity and the amount of exposure. As the rash forms, there is an increase in the sensitivity of the person toward it and you can react to the slightest presence of a few molecules upon the skin. Generally, the rash requires one to two weeks to complete its course and can result in scars, based on the severity of the exposure. In severe cases small clear, blisters filled with fluid appear on the skin. Pus-filled vesicles filled with a whitish fluid points to an infection.

Causes Of Rhus Dermatitis (Poison Ivy)

Poison Ivy is generated by an allergic reaction (allergic contact dermatitis) to the resin or oily coating that encloses these plants. This resinous coating is known as “urushiol”. You do not need to come in direct touch with the roots, leaves or branches of Rhus plants to contract the rash. It can even spread from contaminated clothing.

CBD Can Help In Allergic Contact Dermatitis

Allergic contact dermatitis can cause a delayed reaction and leave a person feeling itchy. The skin becomes hyperactive due to an exaggerated response from our body. CBD has immunosuppressive, antihistamine, and antibiotic properties that help in suppressing an overactive immune system and allergic reactions. Further, CBD can prove beneficial in mitigating the allergic conditions in Rhus dermatitis in the following ways:

CBD Aids In Regulating The Immune Response

A rash ensues when the immune system becomes overactive in the skin. As CBD is a cannabinoid, it interacts with the endocannabinoid system of our body which is an internal system of receptors and ion channels that regulate functions like sleep, mood, temperature, hormonal imbalances, inflammation, and immune activities to name a few. The connection between cannabinoids and the immune mechanism explains as to why CBD works as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent and can help in skin disorders like eczema or atopic dermatitis and psoriasis.

Researchers have held that an imbalance in the endocannabinoid system causes eczema and as skin cells and the nerve fibers of the skin have these receptors, it can be one of the likely reasons as to why CBD aids in controlling skin inflammation.

A Well-Known Anti-inflammatory

The presence of cytokines which are pro-inflammatory mediators that signals and recruits more immune cells can worsen inflammation. Moreover, these cytokines activate the pain receptors of the neurons and play an integral part in pathologic pain and aggravate pain. CBD by triggering an anti-inflammatory protein known as caspase starts the process of immune cells death and helps to control the inflammatory process and lowers the production of cytokines. This can help in reducing the poison ivy rash and its inflammation.

CBD Can Work Like Natural Antihistamine

A study found that cannabinoid activation of the CB1 receptor can halt mast cell degranulation which refers to the process in which these cells release histamine inflammation within the bloodstream. Research has further indicated that cannabidiol (CBD) can stop mast cells from releasing histamine into the bloodstream and prevent inflammation. Mast cells are a part of the white blood cell (immune) process and contain histamine and various inflammatory agents, As they get triggered by stress, viruses, allergens, and bacteria, mast cells release histamine and various inflammatory agents into the bloodstream resulting in allergies and different inflammatory disorders.


The topical formulations and salves which contain CBD are proven to reduce itching, pain, rashes, blisters, and skin discomfort resulting from contact dermatitis like Poison ivy and also in atopic dermatitis such as eczema. CBD by controlling the mast activity has been able to reverse skin inflammation and been useful in allergy and skin disease management.

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