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Poison Ivy Hits New York and New Jersey. What to Know

  • Posted on: Jul 13 2020
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poison ivy (leaflets of three, let them be)

Poison Ivy

It’s the time of year that we start spending more time outdoors on hikes, biking, jogging or just clearing out the vines and weeds in the back yard. Poison ivy is a perennial scourge of the outdoorsman and natively found in North America. Poison Ivy (toxicodendron radicans) has close cousins poison sumac which is found in the south and poison oak which is found in California.
All of the toxicodendron species contain urushiol, a potent chemical which can cause severe contact dermatitis after a person comes in contact with the leaves, stems or even the roots of the plant and is a frequent cause for consultation with a dermatologist.

How do i know if I have poison ivy (rhus dermatitis) ?

Poison ivy plants have distinct leaflets of three attached to a short stalk. The skin eruption can begin as soon as 12 hours after exposure but up to a week later. Contact dermatitis works through a different part of the immune system than hay fever or even bee stings which can cause an almost immediate (IgE hypersensitivity) reaction or swelling. What worse is once the eruption starts for example on the arms and legs, it can spread to the eyelids, face, groin anywhere. Patients will say it can’t be poison ivy because i haven’t been out an in week. However, it can spread through inadvertently touching the welts and then touching your face even while wearing gloves. It can also spread by touching the clothes you wore or even pets.

How can poison ivy spread on a person?

Poison Ivy contains a chemical known as urushiol, a generally colorless oil that strongly adheres to skin clothing and even pet animals. The chemical can remain active even on dead plants The good news is it is not contagiousness. People can develop red itchy red plaques that can even blister. The linear nature of the eruption can usually distinguish it from internal causes of skin problems. However, on the eyelids, it can cause marked swelling due to the loose skin there.

I think i was exposed. What should I do?

The first thing you should do is take a shower or rinse yourself with water and wash all the gloves including gloves and boots with hot soapy water. On your own, you can try over the counter antihistamines and hydrocortisone. If you are still itchy or the eruption spread or looks infected, contact a professional, preferably a dermatologist who can prescribe more potent topical and even oral steroids products that can be tailored to the areas affected as well as the severity. If untreated, poison ivy can last a month and leave unsightly marks. There is no need to suffer, Call your dermatologist for a telemedicine or in person appointment.

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