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Staying Rash-Free In Summer

Posted Aug 24 2008 1:49pm
ANNOUNCER: Poison ivy, oak and sumac are a real pain for most of us since up to 85% of us are allergic to them - and all three irritate for the same reason

Andrea Cambio, MD, Dermatologist : Poison ivy, oak and sumac, the sap is called urushiol, and that is the responsible chemical for causing the rash

ANNOUNCER: Once the leaves are damaged and the sap is released, it's easily transmitted

Andrea Cambio, MD, Dermatologist : There's direct contact, which is if the individual's skin comes in contact with the plant leaf containing the resin or the sap. There's indirect contact, so if your clothing brushes by and gets the sap on it, and then there's airborne, so burning bushes, et cetera, you can develop poison ivy rash.

ANNOUNCER: Poison ivy is the most common of the three and grows year round throughout most of the United States – though you're more likely to be exposed during the summer. The good news is it's easy to recognize – and avoid.

Andrea Cambio, MD, Dermatologist : The slogan is, "Leaves of three, beware of me."

ANNOUNCER: Doctors also recommend covering up to avoid exposure. If you come in contact with the plant and are allergic, a rash with blisters in a distinctive line pattern can develop in 24–to-48 hours.

Andrea Cambio, MD, Dermatologist : If you feel like you came in contact with poison ivy, you immediately want to wash the skin with water and soap. And then if you do see a rash coming, you can apply cool compresses. You can apply calamine lotion and other over-the-counter anti-itch creams, oatmeal baths.

ANNOUNCER: While it's a myth that scratching can spread the rash, it can lead to infection.

Andrea Cambio, MD, Dermatologist : I would say that if the rash is not improving or worsening despite your efforts at home, or if a rash is on your face or if there are any areas that are painful, to seek medical attention.

ANNOUNCER: Poison ivy may be even more of a problem in the future. Recent studies suggest that as earth's carbon dioxide levels rise, poison ivy will grow bigger, faster and more poisonous! Of course, the best defense is still a good offense - so remember, "leaves of three – let it be." Thanks for joining us on today's Once Daily.

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