Orange City, FL Family and Urgent Care Clinic

Patient Portal
Advanced Emurgent Care Logo
Call Now (386) 777-CARE (2273)

Open 7:00am - 7:00pm M-F, 7:00am - 3:00pm Sa-Su

Blog

Poison Ivy

By: Kim Del Campo,
Tues, Jun 29, 2021


Summertime poses an increased risk of coming into contact with poisonous plants. Common plants found out and about Florida are poison ivy and poison oak.

When the skin comes in direct contact with an irritating or allergy-causing substance, contact dermatitis can develop. Exposure to poison ivy and poison oak causes more cases of allergic contact dermatitis than all other plant families combined.

People of all ethnicities and skin types are at risk for developing poison ivy dermatitis. The severity of the reaction decreases with age, especially in people who have had mild reactions in the past. People in occupations such as firefighting, forestry, and farming are at a higher risk of poison ivy dermatitis because of repeated exposure to toxic plants.

Poison ivy and poison oak plants contain a compound called urushiol, which is a light, colorless oil that is found in the fruit, leaves, stem, roots, and sap of the plant. When urushiol is exposed to air, it turns brown and then black; plant leaves develop small black spots.

There are several ways that you can be exposed to urushiol:

  • By touching the sap or rubbing against the leaves of the toxic plant at any time of year
  • By touching something that has urushiol on it, such as animal fur or garden tools
  • By breathing in smoke when toxic plants are burned
  • Ginkgo fruit and the skin of mangoes also contain urushiol and can produce symptoms similar to poison ivy dermatitis

Skin treatments — For some people, adding oatmeal to a bath, applying cool wet compresses, and applying calamine lotion may help to relieve itching. Once the blisters begin weeping fluid, astringents containing aluminum acetate (Burow's solution) and Domeboro may help to relieve the rash.
Antihistamines — Antihistamines do not help to relieve itching caused by poison ivy dermatitis. Some antihistamines make you sleepy while others do not. The ones that make you sleepy (eg, diphenhydramine [sample brand name Benadryl]) can help you to ignore the itch while sleeping, but the quality of sleeping is worse than normal, and patients scratch just as much during the night as if they were not taking an antihistamine.
Steroid creams — Steroid creams may be helpful if they are used during the first few days after symptoms develop. Low-potency steroid creams, such as 1% hydrocortisone (available in the United States without prescription) are not usually helpful. A stronger prescription formula may be helpful, but such steroid creams cost more and are less helpful than taking steroid pills or receiving an injection.
Steroid pills or injections — If you develop severe symptoms or the rash covers a large area (especially on the face or genitals), you may need steroid pills (eg, prednisone) or injections (eg, triamcinolone acetonide, budesonide) to help relieve itching and swelling. Pills are usually given for 14 to 21 days, with the dosage slowly decreased over time. When pills are stopped sooner than 14 days, it is common for the rash and itching to reappear.

If you or someone you know needs help with a skin irritation please feel free to contact our office 7 days per week for our medical professionals to assess and treat it for you.