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Saturday, April 26, 2014

When You Need to See a Doctor About Poison Ivy -- Don't Ignore the Signs

At some point, most people eventually get poison ivy. It's uncomfortable and unsightly, but for most people it eventually goes away. But for others, poison ivy can become a more serious health issue if left untreated.

How do you get poison ivy?

Poison ivy is a red, itchy rash that is caused by coming into contact with the leaves, stem or roots of poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. The rash is caused by the skin's sensitivity to the oily resin deposited from the plant onto one's skin.

When to see a doctor

Most cases are mild and can be treated with over-the-counter remedies. However, if the skin rash affects the face or genitals, it should be treated by a doctor to avoid getting into the eyes, nose and mouth and genitals. Most doctors will prescribe corticosteroid pills, such as prednisone, which work by suppressing inflammation and will clear up the infection in a few weeks.

However, more serious cases can include poison ivy in the lungs from breathing smoke from the burning plant. This is a more serious condition that requires immediate attention from a doctor. Other signs of a more serious condition include:

  • rash continues to spread to other areas
  • rash that blisters and starts to ooze pus
  • fever

When poison ivy leads to infection, a doctor will usually prescribe an antibiotic that will remedy the condition within a few weeks. To prevent poison ivy infection in the first place, learn how to recognize the different types of plants, avoid being in direct contact with burning brush that may include poison ivy plants, wash hands with antibacterial soap after petting animals that may have come into contact with poison ivy, and recognize the early signs of poison ivy rash. Early treatment will usually prevent poison ivy from causing infection.
DISCLAIMER: The content or opinions expressed on this web site are not to be interpreted as medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or medical practictioner before utilizing any suggestions on this web site.