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• Stay away from plants that have shiny leaves or leaves in a pattern of three.
• If exposed, shower with lots of soap as soon as possible.
• Rash from poison ivy can appear within a few hours or a few days and can last up to two weeks.
• You can treat at home with calamine lotion and cool showers.
• If your child has a high fever or the itch is not controlled by home remedies, call your doctor.
Warmer weather means more time outside — making it more likely that your kids are going to run into poison ivy. Up to 80 percent of people are allergic to urushiol, the oily irritant found within plants such as poison sumac, poison oak, and poison ivy. Coming in contact with urushiol can cause a rash that is irritating but rarely serious.
Help your children avoid poison ivy by teaching them the old saying, “Leaves of three, let them be.” While poison ivy leaves can vary in shape and color, avoiding any plant with shiny leaves or that has a pattern of three leaves is the best way to stay clear of urushiol. Remember to clothe your children in long shirts and pants when exploring in areas where poison ivy is known to grow. When you return home from a hike, take a long shower or bath with lots of sudsy water.
If you or your child does come in contact with poison ivy, here is what to expect. Within hours or a few days of contact, the affected skin will turn red, swollen, itchy, and blistery. Over the next few days the first blisters will fade away but the overall pattern of rash and blistering can last up to a few weeks, depending on the severity of the exposure. More contact with the urushiol in poison ivy means a more serious reaction and longer recovery time.
For treatment at home, coating the affected area with calamine lotion and taking cool showers or baths is helpful to calm the itch. While the itching itself will not cause the rash to spread, there is a risk of secondary infection from the germs on one’s hands. If your child has a fever with the rash or if the itching becomes too severe and home remedies are not adequate, call your pediatrician’s office. Your doctor can prescribe medicine containing antihistimines or steroids to help treat the itch.
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