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Poison Ivy: When is it Time to Visit a Dermatologist?

April 26, 2021

Gardening, going for walks in the woods and camping trips are the kinds of family activities we treasure. But enjoying the great outdoors can also mean a brush with those three-leaf nuisances: Poison ivy, oak and sumac.

If you’ve got questions about how to protect your family from these toxic invasives or what to do about the itchy, uncomfortable rashes they leave behind, the dermatologists at Dermatology for the Family have the expertise to keep a mild case from turning into something serious.

These weedy plants are disturbingly common. Poison ivy, oak and sumac can be found in many parts of the United States. All three produce a shiny, waxy substance called urushiol that triggers a reaction when it touches your skin. Even your pets can bring it home: Urushiol sticks to just about anything, including fur.

Symptoms can start between a few hours and a few days after exposure. First comes a pesky itch, followed by an ugly red rash, and eventually those nasty blisters, which can become infected if not treated properly. 

If you think you can only be affected by these poisonous plants in the spring and summer, think again. Coming in contact with any parts including the roots can cause a rash — even in winter. Airborne particles from burning the plants can trigger a reaction if they land on our skin and can lead to a serious — possibly life-threatening — reaction if inhaled. In some cases an allergic reaction to urushiol can cause difficulty breathing or swallowing, fever and swelling on your face or around your eyes.

If you’re concerned about these poisonous invaders, call Dermatology for the Family, where we’re experts on many varieties of skin conditions and have the newest medications available to treat them. Don’t let poison ivy, oak or sumac take the enjoyment out of your outdoor plans.