This is a very common and annoying spring and summertime complaint. It is characterized by an itchy, red rash with weeping blisters. It can be in patches or streaks. The rash occurs on exposed body surfaces 1-2 days after the child has had contact with the plant. The rash usually lasts “seven days if you treat it, one week if you don’t,” maintains Dr. Earle. It may even last up to 2 weeks. There is no treatment that will cure it. The best approach is prevention.
If you think your child has had contact with poison ivy, wash the exposed areas of skin with soap and water within one hour of exposure. If you know where your child is contacting poison ivy, REMOVE THE PLANTS!!
There are a few things you can do to reduce the symptoms.
- Soak the area in cool water or rub an ice cube over it for 20 minutes as often as necessary. Let it air dry. This will reduce itching and oozing.
- You may use 1% hydrocortisone cream up to 4 times a day to lessen itching.
- You may use Benadryl by mouth in appropriate doses to lessen itching.
- Cut your child’s fingernails short and discourage scratching.
Please note that the fluid from the blisters does NOT spread poison ivy; however, the oil from the plant does. It stays on clothes, baseball gloves, bikes, dogs, and anything else it has touched. Wash all such items.
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- Following exposure to smoke from burned plants, your child’s face turns red or coughing develops.
- The rash involves more than 1/4 of the entire body area.
During office hours if:
- The face, eyes, lips or genitals are significantly involved.
- The itching interferes with sleep, even after the above suggestions have been tried.
- Any signs of infection occur, such as yellow, crusty scabs, pain or pus.
- You have other questions or concerns.