poisonous plant dermatitis grosse pointe dermatology poison ivy

The most common poisonous plant dermatitis in the Michigan area is seen after contact with poison ivy or poison sumac. These plants are common all over the United States and are the most common cause of allergic reactions on the skin.

Source of Allergy

The allergy is caused by an oil found in the plant called urushiol. Urushiol is found in the sap of poison ivy and sumac. It oozes from any cut or crushed part of the roots, stems and leaves. A person can be exposed by direct contact with the sap of the plant, touching garden tools, sports equipment or animals that have touched the sap or by airborne contact from burning the plants.

Poison Ivy Symptoms

When the oil gets on the skin it begins to penetrate in minutes. A reaction usually appears within 12 to 48 hours. If it is the patient’s first exposure to the urushiol oil symptoms could develop up to a week later. There can be severe itching, redness and swelling on the skin followed by blisters. The rash is often in streaks or lines where the plant brushed against the person.

Treatment and Prevention

If you think you’ve come in contact with a poisonous plant follow these simple steps: Wash all exposed areas with soap and water within 30 minutes of exposure. Wash your clothing with laundry detergent or dry clean. Clean off all sports equipment, gardening equipment and footwear with a grease cutting detergent. Prescription creams can help resolve the rash although more severe cases may require treatment with Prednisone pills or cortisone shots. One the plant oil has been washed off and the clothing has been laundered the rash cannot be spread further by scratching or touching. New areas may appear because the oil takes longer to affect some body areas than others.