Caution: poison ivy is not your friend!

Monday, August 15, 2011

It is summer time again and time to avoid poison ivy otherwise known as rhus rubris. This notorious plant causes contact dermatitis which is a common reason for one to have to visit Robinhood Adolescent Medicine. Teenagers usually come in to contact with poison ivy, or poison sumac when they are out helping in the yard, clearing weeds and vines, or taking walks in the woods. The skin can become sensitized to the allergens from the plants, and even if they have not broken out previously, develop a nasty, itchy oozing rash. If there is suspicion of contact with the plant, take a shower and try to wash any body parts that came in contact with the plant. Contrary to popular belief, poison ivy rash does not “spread” several days after contact. The rash may continue to break out where varying amounts of the allergen made contact with the skin. The heavily inoculated area breaks out first and the lesser areas break out later. It is not spreading and those oozing sacs of fluid are not going to spread the rash to you or anyone else. The Robinhood Adolescent team might treat you with creams or oral prednisone. We will not be able to call in prednisone because we have to see the rash to confirm the diagnosis. We can not take the chance of calling you in prednisone for an infection which could be a serious mistake.