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Poison Ivy Treatment
Poison ivy commonly causes skin rashes in children during the spring, summer, and fall seasons. An allergic
reaction to the oil in these plants produces the rash. The rash occurs from several hours to three days after
contact with the plant and begins in the form of blisters, accompanied by severe itching.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not the fluid in the blisters that causes the rash to spread. This spreading occurs
when small amounts of oil remain under the child’s fingernails, on her clothing, or on a pet’s hair that then
comes in contact with other parts of her body. The rash will not be spread to another person unless the oil that
remains also comes in contact with that person’s skin.
Poison ivy grows as a three- leafed green weed with a red stem at the center. It grows in vine like form in all
parts of the country. These skin reactions are forms of contact dermatitis.
– Prevention is the best approach. Know what the plant looks like and teach your children to avoid it.
“Leaves of three, let it be.”
– If there is contact, wash all clothes and shoes in soap and water. Also, wash the area of the skin that was
exposed with soap and water for at least ten minutes after the plant or the oil has been touched.
– If the eruption is mild, apply calamine lotion three or four times a day to cut down on the itching. Avoid
those preparations containing anesthetics or antihistamines, as often they can cause allergic eruptions
– Apply topical 1 percent hydrocortisone cream to decrease the inflammation.
– If the rash is severe, on the face, or on extensive parts of the body, the pediatrician may need to place
your child on oral steroids. These will need to be given for about six to ten days, often with the dose
tapering in a specific schedule determined by your pediatrician. This treatment should be reserved for
the most severe cases.
Call the pediatrician if you notice any of the following:
– Severe eruption not responsive to the previously described home methods
– Any evidence of infection, such as blisters, redness, or oozing
– Any new eruption or rash
– Severe poison ivy on the face
– Fever

Have a fun, healthy and poison ivy free summer!

Susan Quigley, RN, NCSN

June 2017 Tiger Times