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What Are Long Red Lines on Skin With Rough Tracks?

by
author image Toby Pendergrass
Toby Pendergrass began writing and editing in 1998. He has served as editor for numerous custom health publications and physician journals. His work has appeared in publications such as Hospital Corporation of America's "YOU." He enjoys writing about cardiology and cancer care and holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
What Are Long Red Lines on Skin With Rough Tracks?
Poison ivy growing up the side of a tree. Photo Credit AnastasiaRasstrigina/iStock/Getty Images

Long red lines that appear on your skin with rough tracks are typically the result of an allergic reaction. While severe itching and discomfort often accompany the red lines, the reaction does not threaten your long-term well-being and can be treated without a prescription in most cases. Alert your physician prior to considering any home remedy that claims to cure skin conditions.

Significance

Sensitivity to the poison ivy plant often triggers the appearance of long red lines on your skin that come with rough or slightly elevated tracks that consist of tiny bumps. Most people who suffer a poison ivy rash are allergic to urushiol, an oily ingredient found in the plant that spreads easily on your skin and clothing. Other symptoms of the rash are swelling, blisters and severe itching. Symptoms often ease with home treatment that includes nonprescription lotions and creams, although your doctor's care might be needed for extreme cases of poison ivy. The rash is not contagious, according to MayoClinic.com.

Identification

Poison ivy plants have a red stem and three green leaves. Rashes from the plant form as long red lines that mirror the movement of the plant as it rubs across your skin. Most people with a poison ivy reaction notice fluid leaking from the red lines. The fluid results from scratching, which raises your risk for infection, especially if your hands are dirty, according to the Merck Manuals.

Time Frame

Long red lines with rough tracks from poison ivy usually appear within two days after your exposure to the plant, although more lines can become visible after four to five days based on how quickly your skin absorbs urushiol from the plant. Most poison ivy reactions last four weeks or longer based on treatment, according to the Merck Manuals.

At-Home Treatment

Reduce the discomfort of poison ivy with nonprescription creams that contain hydrocortisone. Oral antihistamines, calamine lotion and a bath that includes colloidal oatmeal are also common methods of at-home care for poison ivy. Some people with poison ivy find relief from covering the long red lines with a cool wet bandage at least three times daily for up to 30 minutes.

Prevention/Solution

Lower your risk for a poison ivy reaction by wearing socks, pants and long-sleeved shirts when gardening or walking in areas populated by plants. If you encounter poison ivy, wash your skin and clothes quickly, as well as beneath your fingernails, to minimize the plant’s ability to penetrate your skin. Keep your body cool, as heat intensifies itching, according to MedlinePlus, a medical information resource established by the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Potential

Contact your doctor if home treatment fails to remedy your discomfort and the red lines spread to your eyes or mouth or if you develop a fever. Your doctor can prescribe corticosteroids or an oral antibiotic based on the severity of your condition.

Warning

Burning poison ivy plants puts your neighbors at risk for the allergic reaction because the harmful chemicals in the plants will spread in the smoke.

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