Summer has arrived which means more time outdoors. This increases the likelihood of coming into contact with plants which can cause an allergic-type rash. These plants include the well-known poison ivy and poison oak.
Poison ivy and poison oak have 3 leaves which come from a single stem. The leaves are often green, but can turn brown or red if they are dying. The oils from the dead plants can still result in a rash. The rash forms if you have touched a poison ivy plant directly, come into contact with the plant’s oils, or have been nearby a burning poison ivy plant. The oils are often spread through clothes or animal fur.
The rash that is caused by the plant will often look red. It may form blisters which are small, fluid-filled skin bubbles. These blisters may be in multiple locations on the body; this does not mean the rash is spreading. Touching the blisters or the fluid in them will not spread the rash.
There are some helpful tips that you can try at home to alleviate the itching. This includes not scratching, putting a cold compress on the rash, or using calamine lotion. An oral antihistamine medication such as Benadryl may help the symptoms, although it can cause drowsiness so do not operate a vehicle while taking the medication. You may try hydrocortisone cream on the rash, but it is not always strong enough to help with poison ivy.
A rash that persists may need professional medication. You should seek care if your rash is severe, a large portion of your body has the rash, it is located on your face or genitals, you have swelling, oozing, or pus, or your rash does not improve in a 2-3 week time frame. Your medical provider may prescribe a steroid which can come in a cream, ointment, or pill to help with the swelling and itching.
You can prevent future reactions by staying away from poison ivy, wearing clothes that cover your entire body including arms, legs, and fingers, and wearing thick vinyl gloves while doing yard work. Summer is a time to enjoy the outdoor beauty without spending the day itching away.
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