During this time of year, many of us are spending a lot of time outside. One real risk you face in spending an increased amount of time outdoors is encountering some of what I like to call "problem plants", such as poison ivy, oak, and sumac. Contact with each of these can cause contact dermatitis, which develops when the skin comes in contact with a chemical that triggers an allergic reaction. Knowing the signs of irritation and what to do if affected are very important.
If you've come in contact with poison ivy, oak, or sumac, the irritated skin will be red, swollen, and itchy. In severe cases, small blisters can crop up, and clear fluid may seep from the skin.
What to do if you get poison ivy, oak, or sumac...
- Don't scratch or rub the inflamed skin. Compresses of cool, clean water can be soothing. Aspirin and similar pain relievers can reduce pain.
- Steroid ointments will speed healing. Mild preparations such as hydrocortisone are available over the counter, stronger medications by prescription. If you have a severe case, your doctor may prescribe a steroid pill such as prednisone.
- Remember that the best treatment is prevention. Learn to recognize and avoid pesky plants by visiting
Get more information about contact dermatitis and how to treat it by clicking here.
Stay out of the way of these problem plants and make your summer a happy, healthy one.