Martha Jefferson Healthwise: Poison Ivy

By: Oliva Kim Email
By: Oliva Kim Email

July 16, 2014

If you enjoy being outdoors, you run the risk of being in contact with poison ivy.

Dr. Kathy Phan of Forest Lakes Family Medicine says prevention is key to avoid an allergic reaction.

If you're doing yard work, or walking in a wooded area, Dr. Phan recommends covering up your arms and legs. She also recommends using vinyl gloves because the leather or cloth gloves can still absorb some of the oil from the plant. Your skin quickly absorbs the oil and eventually causes an itchy rash.

There are over-the-counter treatments to use if you do break out- calamine lotion, antihistamines, and oatmeal baths -.which can help to minimize the itching.

Dr. Phan says if the rash appears on your face, eyes or neck you should see your doctor. And if it's very painful, draining a lot, and you're developing a fever it could be indicative of some sort of bacterial infection that needs to be treated.

A poison ivy rash usually takes two weeks to clear up but Dr. Phan says she's seen symptoms last as long as 28 days.

Lastly, Dr. Phan wants everyone to know that the rash is not contagious.

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