What's Going Around

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It's poison ivy that Nurse Practitioner Linda Eckerson at McLaren Greater Lansing-DeWitt Family Medicine is treating this week. She's seen several cases.

Symptoms include: itching, red streaks on the skin, small bumps or hives, blisters that may leak fluid, and warmth at the exposed area. If you're highly allergic, you'll have swelling of the face, mouth, neck or eyelids and widespread large blisters.

The rash will develop in a day or two. The rash isn't contagious; the spreading of the plant oil is. That's why you need to wash the skin immediately with soap and water. Wash clothing, too.

You can relieve itching by soaking the area in cool water and applying calamine lotion. You can also use topical antihistamines. In severe cases, your doctor may prescribe a corticosteroid.

Poison ivy plants have a cluster of three waxy, pointed leaves at the end of a long stem. The center leaf almost always has a small stem, while the two side leaves grow directly from the vine. All parts of the plant cause a reaction, not just the leaves.

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