What's Going Around

Dan Moore, certified physician assistant at McLaren-Greater Lansing Internal Medicine in Lansing, has been seeing several cases of poison ivy and poison oak this week.

The hallmark symptom is an itchy, red, raised rash that often appears in lines or streaks. The rash forms blisters that break open and ooze clear fluid. You may also have localized swelling and a feeling of warmth at the exposed area.

Most cases can be treated at home. Wash the irritant off the skin as soon as possible with soap and hot water. Clothes should be washed, too.

Take an oral antihistamine, apply a topical hydro-cortisone cream and use calamine lotion. Cool, moist compresses can help relieve itching and make the blisters dry out. Try not to scratch.

See a doctor if you have swelling of the face, mouth neck or eyelids, or if the rash shows signs of infection.

It is a common misconception that poison ivy is contagious. The rash itself is not contagious; it's the spreading of the plant oil that is. That's why it's so important to wash the irritant off the skin as soon as possible.


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