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Leaves of Three, Let it Be!

Updated: Jun 10, 2020




This saying is a great reminder this time of year. We are talking poison ivy. Poison ivy, oak, and sumac cause allergic contact dermatitis. Typically the poison ivy and oak plant have three leaves coming from a central stem that can cause a rash when our skin comes in contact with the plant’s oil. But, did you know, the poison ivy plant’s leaves change colors throughout the year. Starting as red-tinged green leaves in the spring, it advances to deep green to eventually fall colors, yellow, gold, red. Chemically, the oil is known as, Urushiol. Urushiol is an invisible, oily, clear substance that oozes from crushed or cut poison ivy leaves and spreads very easily. At first, the rash is red, itchy, and may have swelling. The reaction can increase and lead to intense itching, inflammation, and papules. I will be discussing some treatment options and also some not so great treatment options that can actually cause additional symptoms. However, regardless of over the counter/home remedy treatments, consult your physician if your rash is on your face, eyes or genitals or if it covers a large portion of your body. Also, seek medical attention if there are signs of infection, it is affecting a child less than 2 years of age, or your at-home treatment is not working after 7 days.

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