The beginning of summer kicks off the camping and hiking season, anxiously awaited by those who have endured a long cold winter.
But being in the outdoors in the warm weather may lead to contact dermatitis caused by exposure to poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac. The resin on the plants' leaves, urushiol, is the cause of the trademark red, itchy patches and blisters.
It takes a little planning to avoid the plants and some immediate action to prevent or mitigate a reaction if you come in contact with them.
Continue reading How to Avoid and Treat Poison, Ivy, Oak and Sumac .
Prevention Wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks when walking in areas where these plants may grow.
Skin products such as Ivy Block lotion can be applied beforehand to reduce the risk of a rash. Other steps include: Learn to identify poison ivy, oak, and sumac. Teach your children to identify them as soon as they are able.
Remove these plants if they grow near your home (but never burn them).
Be aware of resins carried by pets.
Wash as soon as possible after a suspected exposure. References Anderson BE, Marks JG Jr. Plant-induced dermatitis. In: Auerbach PS, ed. Wilderness Medicine . 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 57. Cydulka RK, Garber B. Dermatologic presentations. In: Marx JA, ed. Rosens Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice . 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 118. Habif TP. Contact dermatitis and patch testing. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology . 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 4.
In susceptible individuals, poison ivy causes allergic contact dermatitis. While contact may be apparent and avoidable in many cases, it may not be so when clearing brush at the end of the season, and can cause breathing problems if an allergic person inhales smoke from burning brush with poison ivy. Interestingly, the compound that causes the reaction, urushiol, is also found in poison oak and sumac. What few people know if that it is also in the skins of mango fruit!
For more information on the Allergen of the Month feature, see the overview , and check out the previous post on latex .
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