Book
Appt
Philadelphia and Mainline Center of Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery

Written by Dr. Ringpfeil

Poison Ivy

Overview

Poison ivy causes a skin irritation called contact dermatitis and results in a red, itchy rash consisting of small bumps, blisters or swelling. Many people are sensitive to an oily plant resin called urushiol, the common irritating substance in poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. It takes only a tiny amount of urushiol to cause a reaction. Urushiol is very sticky and doesn't dry, so it easily attaches to your skin, clothing, tools, equipment and pet's fur. Treatment for poison ivy aims to relieve the itching until the reaction naturally resolves.

Diagnosis

Signs and symptoms of a poison ivy rash include redness, itching, swelling and blisters. The rash usually appears within a couple of days after contact with the plant's oils and lasts for up to 3 weeks. Poison ivy can vary from mild to severe. It presents as a red rash that it is extremely itchy; eruptions in streaks or patches where the plant touched the skin and where it was transmitted by our hands from the original site of contact to other areas; red bumps and possibly also large, weeping blisters.

Management

The poison ivy reaction is self-resolving and not contagious. However, certain circumstances require clinical attention. For example, a severe or widespread reaction; rash affecting sensitive areas of your body, such as your eyes, mouth or genitals; large blisters or a fever. Scratching a poison ivy rash with dirty fingernails might cause a secondary bacterial infection resulting in pus within the blisters. Treatment of a secondary infection generally requires prescription antibiotics. In rare circumstances, poison ivy may be so severe that hospitalization is indicated.

Treatment and Medication

The urushiol resin enters skin quickly, so try to wash it within 30 minutes of exposure with soap and water or with Tecnu, an oil-removing product. Scrub under the fingernails with a brush to prevent the resin from spreading to other parts of the body. Typically, the poison ivy rash goes away on its own within one to three weeks. Effective relief of symptoms can be achieved with over-the-counter medications like calamine lotion, hydrocortisone cream or aluminum acetate (Domeboro solution) soaks. Antihistamines can stop extreme itching. In severe cases, especially rash around the face or genitals, your doctor may prescribe oral or injected steroids.

Coping

Fortunately, neither the poison ivy rash nor blister fluid is contagious. Since the reaction is based on contact with urushiol, thoroughly clean anything that may be contaminated. If the contact with urushiol has left black stains on clothing or utensils, these need to be exposed off as effective cleansing can no longer be performed. Gently washing off the harmful resin from your skin within minutes after exposure may help avert a reaction.

Prevention

The best way to prevent an allergic or irritant reaction from urushiol is avoidance of contact with poison ivy, poison sumac or poison oak. Know what these plants look like and where they are commonly found. They typically have leaves made of three or more leaflets and climb on other plants or fences. When hiking or engaging in other activities that might expose you to poison ivy, try to stay on cleared pathways. Remove poison ivy from your backyard.

How can we help you?

SKIN

# of surveys: 4187
Last updated: 1/02/2024 11:10 AM

PATIENT RATINGS

Would you recommend us?

definitely
93.1%
probably
6.16%
maybe
0.58%
not likely
0.08%
no
0.02%

Compare our service to other similar practices

excellent
87.9%
very good
10.1%
good
1.8%
poor
0.06%
very poor
0%

Overall doctor performance

excellent
94.2%
very good
4.89%
good
0.80%
poor
0.03%
very poor
0%

The doctor listened to you attentively

excellent
93.9%
very good
4.97%
good
1.05%
poor
0.05%
very poor
0%

The doctor took time to answer your questions

excellent
94.0%
very good
4.66%
good
1.27%
poor
0.02%
very poor
0%

The doctor explained treatment options

excellent
94.3%
very good
4.16%
good
1.25%
poor
0.14%
very poor
0.02%

The doctor explained treatment options

excellent
92.0%
very good
5.69%
good
2.18%
poor
0.11%
very poor
0.0%

Front desk performance

excellent
85.6%
very good
10.2%
good
3.66%
poor
0.31%
very poor
0.08%

Aesthetician performance

excellent
88.6%
very good
7.61%
good
3.39%
poor
0.24%
very poor
0.08%

Office comfort

excellent
90.9%
very good
6.93%
good
2.08%
poor
0.05%
very poor
0.05%

Parking

excellent
66.4%
very good
14.4%
good
15.7%
poor
2.49%
very poor
0.9%

Friendliness of the staff during appointment

excellent
90.9%
very good
7.23%
good
1.85%
poor
0.05%
very poor
0%

What WE DID WELL

(Answers:674)

That was the most thorough appointment I have had in a very long time. I was given numerous options that were tailored for my skin needs.

#12011-12-06 10:16:06

I liked the paintings that are in the rooms.

#22011-06-02 11:25:09

nope. i've been to a lot of dermas and i never felt so positive, hopeful. thank you!!!

#32023-07-11

Very nice office, physician, physician's assistant are extremely helpful and understanding.

#42024-02-05

every thing was great.

#52024-01-07

efficiency, carefulness, thoroughness very much in evidence.

#62023-07-09

it was a good experience and the music was excellent!

#72023-12-22

The information provided by the physician was very helpful and useful. I would gladly do what she recommended.

#82024-05-25

Everyone was very nice! Thankyou for all your help!

#92024-05-09

Everyone was very nice! Thankyou for all your help!

#102024-04-20

What can we do better?

(answers:373)

All fine

#12023-07-27

was fine

#22024-06-01

beethoven & mahler symphonic music pumped N2 waiting area* squash magazine & velonews & roleur periodical*(my wish list JK)

#32024-02-28

Can't everything was excellent!!!

#42011-12-06 11:22:30

No complaints at all. Excellent experience

#52010-09-30 10:38:51

Very satisfied. Should get an office in Cherry Hill, NJ

#62024-04-01

Try to get enrolled as a provider in Tricare Prime!

#72023-11-22

Everything was great! The only thing I would say is when I called to make an appointment for sun spot treatment to let me know that I should limit my sun exposure and wear sunblock.

#82011-05-05 13:30:08

So far so good!

#92011-01-04 10:23:13

Provide some written information for questions asked. I can't remember everything said.

#102024-05-11

Customer Rating : 4.6

Based on 537 ratings
Send us a message!

Enter your information, and we will text you shortly.