Poison ivy

  • Allergic skin rash caused by direct contact with the toxin from a poison ivy plant
  • Symptoms may include red blisters with itching and burning pain
  • May be spread in the air by burning the plant
  • Cannot be spread from person to person or by contact with fluid from blisters
  • Affects males and females
  • Can occur at any age
  • May be mild to severe depending on the amount of exposure and sensitivity

GENERAL THERAPY

  • “Leaves of 3, let them be”
  • Reaction occurs in 12 to 48 hours after exposure
  • Cool wet compresses for 15 to 30 minutes several times a day
  • Wash area in contact with plenty of water for 5 to 10 minutes, within 10 to 15 minutes of exposure
  • Cool-water tub soaks with Colloidal oatmeal
  • Apply over the counter, Bentoquatam to protect the skin
  • Trim fingernails short to limit possibility of spreading bacteria

 

MEDICATIONS

Corticosteroid creams:

  • Hydrocortisone
  • Calamine lotion
  • Creams containing menthol

 

Oral antihistamine:

  • Diphenhydramine

 

PRECAUTIONS AND AVOIDANCES

  • Learn what it looks like and where it grows
  • Clothing should be washed immediately after contact
  • Anything in contact with the plant needs to be cleaned: pets; clothes; garden tools; outdoor gear
  • Wear protective clothing when in areas where poison ivy grows (long pants, long sleeves, and shoes)
  • Handle contaminated cloths carefully; oil remains allergenic for years, even if dried out
  • Never handle plant without vinyl gloves (oil can penetrate rubber gloves)
  • Do not burn poison ivy as oil can be carried by smoke

 

SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION IF:

  • The reaction is widespread or severe
  • The rash is in sensitive areas of the body, such as eyes, mouth, or genitals
  • Oozing pus from blisters
  • Fever greater than 37.8 ºC (100 ºF)
  • Rash is not better in a few weeks

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