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How to Stay Itch-Free This Summer
Posted by Dr. Joshua Fox

How to Stay Itch-Free This Summer

The warm, sunny days of summer beg people to spend time outdoors. With this extended time outdoors comes increased exposure to poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. These plants contain an oil called urushiol that causes an itchy, blistering rash upon contact with skin. What are the signs of skin irritation from these plants and how can they be avoided?

Learn Which Plants to Stay Away From

poison ivy/oak/sumac

  • Poison ivy has three leaves arranged left, right and center; it has shiny leaves with smooth edges
  • Poison oak is similar in appearance to poison ivy, with a polished, hairy surface; it is typically in a group of three, five or seven leaves
  • Poison sumac grows in groups ranging between seven to thirteen leaves, with one leaf at the end.

Symptoms to Watch Out For

Should you come into contact with poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac, an itchy rash will develop over the affected area(s) within 72 hours. The rash will appear as a cluster of reddish, raised blisters. It is not contagious and will not spread to anywhere else on the body. In most cases, the rash subsides within a week, but it can last up to three weeks.

If You’ve Come Into Contact With the Plants

If you think you may have been in contact with poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac, immediately wash the exposed area(s) with soap and lukewarm water, or in its absence, rubbing alcohol. Make sure to wash any clothing, shoes or gardening tools that may have also touched the poisonous plant. Should the rash occur throughout the body or near your eyes, contact a dermatologist for a proper diagnosis, and if necessary, medications to relieve the itching.

Minimize Your Exposure to Poison Ivy, Poison Oak or Poison Sumac

To reduce your exposure to poison ivy, oak or sumac, cover your body in a long-sleeved shirt, long pants and closed shoes if you are going to an area that may contain these plants. Gardeners should wear gloves when handling pine straw or bagged mulch and should have a dedicated pair of shoes for outdoor use that remain outside. You may apply lotion containing bentoquatam to protect your skin against urushiol.

Can’t Fight the Itch? Contact Us Today!

If your skin is itching, contact us today to determine its causes and seek proper treatment. At Advanced Dermatology, PC, our board-certified dermatologists are experts at treating a wide range of skin conditions. Our conveniently located offices welcome patients from Queens, Long Island (Nassau County and Suffolk County), New York City, Bergen County, NJ, Union County, NJ, and all surrounding areas.

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