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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.

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Last updated: 03/25/2019 1:12 PM

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What WE DID WELL

(Answers:674)

Linda was very informative, very responsive to my questions. I felt very comfortable with her advice

#12011-05-26 10:18:40

Everyone was wonderful, kind, helpful & extremely knowledgeable

#22020-01-25

Everyone was friendly, office was nice and bright, bathrooom was clean.

#32019-08-04

filling out the patient form on the computer is excellent and much better than the paper forms usually used for doctors; extremely efficient interaction with the staff and doctor; gorgeous waiting room!

#42011-12-14 08:52:39

I liked that Dr. Ringpfoil was very through and caring.

#52019-04-09

No wait time for appointment - attentiveness of PA

#62011-05-04 19:03:57

professional staff

#72010-12-02 11:39:52

I thought the staff and the Doctor was extremely proffesional and courteous. I had a positive first experience and will continue to visit.

#82019-10-01

Excellent staff who seem to like what they are doing! (A rarity in many offices!)

#92011-11-17 12:08:50

The office ambiance is exceptional! Since I am a musician, I really enjoyed the soothing, classical music playing softly in the background. The fresh flowers also add a nice touch. I was extremely impressed by the cleanliness of the facilities and the professional and thorough treatment I received by Dr. Ringpfeil. The technological efficiency of the office was also very impressive!

#102019-11-19

What can we do better?

(answers:373)

it's a little thing, but when you enter an office and ask the receptionist attending to you how are you, she say fine, but does not inquire how you are, and is not engaging, I just think its rude.

#12020-02-10

DO NOT CHANGE A THING- YOU FOLKS ARE WONDERFUL!!!!!

#22019-06-17

My only complaint is that I work and live (1 mile from) Center City, PA and I wish the office (Dr. Ringpfield) had weekend or later hours. Dr. Heckman was great but she cannot assist me with my cosmetic issues. Overall - like the office and professionalism.

#32011-08-10 18:44:27

Have the patient internet working

#42011-09-08 11:08:45

It was a perfect experioence, I wouldn't change a thing!

#52019-09-15

Nothing more than today's appintment.

#62010-11-10 08:24:10

tell the Dr. to stop snowboarding and come back to skiing..;-)

#72011-12-07 10:55:46

website access to new patients more visable on site

#82020-02-23

Keep up the good work

#92019-10-17

Shorter wait, but not much else.

#102019-08-05
Customer Rating : 4.5

Based on 145 ratings