You chop down a shrub while trimming your lawn. Or you’re planting fresh flowers for your garden. Next thing you know, your arms and legs start tingling and turn red. Before you know it, you’re covered in an itchy rash. What you didn’t realize is that you might have come across a poisonous plant.
What you see and feel on your skin is caused by urushiol, the oil found in poisonous plants such as poison ivy, oak, or sumac. Within minutes of contact, the skin starts to absorb the oil, which causes a delayed skin rash.
What are the symptoms?
Some of the symptoms include:
- Itchy skin
- Outbreak – small or large blisters
- Flakey skin – after blisters burst
What caused the rash?
You can get the rash by simply touching poison ivy, oak, or sumac. You may indirectly come into contact with urushiol by touching a pet’s fur, gardening tool, or sports equipment. By burning the poisonous plants, particles of urushiol are released into the air, which can land on the skin and cause a rash.
Am I contagious?
You cannot get the rash from touching someone who has the rash. While person to person contact does not spread the rash, you can get the rash from clothes, pets, and gardening equipment that has the urushiol oils on it.
What should I do if I come into contact with urushiol?
If you think you touched poison ivy, oak, or sumac, make sure you:
- Immediately rinse your skin with lukewarm, soapy water
- Thoroughly wash of your clothes you were wearing when you came into contact with the poisonous plant
- Wash surfaces that the oil might be stuck on including pet fur, outdoor equipment, etc.
- Don’t scratch your skin and leave blisters alone
- Apply almandine lotion or hydrocortisone cream
- Consider taking an oral, over-the-counter antihistamine
When should I seek medical attention?
You should seek medical attention if you’re having difficulty breathing, you have rashes or blisters on your body, or if home remedies don’t seem to ease the itch.
At AFC Urgent Care Stamford, our medical professionals can determine if your rash is due to poison ivy, okay, or sumac. We can prescribe you with an ointment, cream, or antibiotic depending upon the severity of the rash. We’re open seven days a week, which means you don’t have to wait for a prescription from your doctor. We also partner with a variety of insurance providers to make your visit with us a lower cost than the emergency room.
For more information about the services we provide, please call to speak with one of our medical professionals at 203-969-2000.