Poison Ivy, Oak, And Sumac: When to Seek Medical Attention

Around this time of summer our landscape begins to look unruly, and we want to clean it up. Inevitably you or one of your children gets into a patch of poison ivy or some other unfriendly vine or bush. When this occurs, it’s important to know about poison ivy, oak, and sumac and when to seek medical attention.

Person itching their arm

What Causes An Allergic Reaction?

Poison ivy, oak and sumac are all native American plants and all poisonous. In fact 85% of people are allergic to them and 50 some million get an allergic reaction each year. The problem is contained in the oil of the plants and the second time we come in contact with any of them, we get a reaction known as allergic dermatitis.

You can’t spread it to another person even if they touch your skin, but you can make it worse by touching an affected area and then touching another part of your body, like your eyes or genitals. Not a good idea!

Urushiol is the nasty substance that causes the reaction. It will remain on the skin, clothing, tools, pets, and even from the smoke if you burn the plant. It is important to remove all clothing and immediately wash both the clothes, your body, and your hair.

Common Symptoms And Treatments

If you’ve had them, you know how awful they are. Blistering, itching, redness, swelling, and sometimes oozing from the blisters are the common symptoms.

Unfortunately, there is no cure once the rash begins. Calamine lotion is best for itching. Baking soda and oatmeal bath will do the same. An antihistamine before you go to bed can help you sleep.

Premier Urgent Care Center may prescribe a topical cortisone to help.

When To See Premier Urgent Care Center in Chicago, IL

If you begin to have a fever 100 degrees or above, and you see puss with yellow scabs, it’s time to get medical help.

If the itching and rash gets worse especially after 3 weeks, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

If the rash transfers to your mouth, eyes, or genitals, don’t delay getting medical assistance.

If you have trouble breathing or swallowing, this could be a medical emergency.

Visit Premier Urgent Care Center if your symptoms do not improve or become worse after trying common treatments. Call (773) 891-2890 for additional questions or to schedule a visit.

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