Poison Ivy and Summer Rashes
Whether hiking through Fontenelle Forest or working in your back yard, be aware of contact with the three-leafed plant that can cause an itchy rash- poison ivy.
Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac are three varieties of local plants that can cause these rashes when a person comes in contact with the oily resin (urushiol) found on the leaves and other parts of these plants. Over 80% of people have a rash-reaction to urushiol.
Poison Ivy Symptoms
Symptoms of poison ivy-oak-sumac include redness, swelling and itching of the skin on the area of contact with the plant. Small-to-large blisters will also occur, often in a streak or patch pattern where the urushiol touched the skin. Sometimes these blisters will ooze, but the fluid does not spread the rash. Poison ivy can take several days to several weeks to heal.
Quick action can help prevent these rashes. If you know you have touched these plants, wash thoroughly with soapy water, as the urushiol is quickly absorbed into your skin. If the rash does develop, treatment includes the following:
- Apply cool compresses to the skin.
- Use topical treatments to relieve itching, including calamine lotion, oatmeal baths, Tecnu, Zanfel, or aluminum acetate.
- Oral antihistamines, such as Benadryl, can also help relieve itching.
- For a more severe rash, a health-care professional may prescribe a high-potency steroid cream or an oral corticosteroid.
- Over-the-counter medication may be necessary for pain control.
- Antibiotics may be prescribed if the rash becomes infected. Avoid scratching the rash to prevent the development of a bacterial infection.
- Go to the nearest emergency department or call an ambulance if experiencing an anaphylactic reaction (severe allergic reaction) characterized by difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, facial swelling, or if one has had a previous severe reaction to these plants. Also seek medical care if the rash involves the genitals or the face or if the rash shows signs of infection.
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