Dr. Vicki Herrman, Boys Town Pediatrics
Poison ivy is endemic all over Nebraska. It is very common in fields and forests and you can pretty much find it any place where there is a wild growth. You'll send your kids to pull weeds in the backyard or you have a forest or something abutting your property, you are more likely to run into it.
Poison ivy causes a lot of allergic reaction in many people. There are a few people that don't react necessarily to it, but there are many that will have horrific rashes and they are blistery and they're extremely itchy and sometimes even painful. What causes the reaction is the sap in the plant. People think that once I get poison ivy that it is spreading up and down their body. The only places that are going to react are the places that the sap touches. Unfortunately if you don't get rid of the clothing or wash it really well, wash your shoes, wash your coats, everything. If you don't get rid of the sap on the clothes you will continue to expose.
It is recommended that if you've had an exposure, scrub with soap for about ten minutes. Then for very mild cases you can use some calamine lotion. If you are just a mild reactor and you're just getting a few red dots or bumps and if you're just a little itchy, topical Benadryl and those things don't work very well on that. They say you probably shouldn't use that. The next step is going to a topical steroid like hydrocortisone. You can get that over the counter. Use it very sparingly on the areas that are itchy and red. If things are bad enough that you're worried that it's very abundant on the skin and the child is very miserable. If there is any swelling or drainage, you need to go into your doctor and what we generally do is put them on some steroids to take the inflammation down and monitor it for infection.
You need to show them a picture of it. It is easy to find online. You need to identify it. You need to avoid it if possible and tell them if they see it to let you know. I had lots of experience with older kids who get jobs with lawn companies and stuff coming in with it so, wear gloves and long sleeves and you'll protect yourself.
Poison Ivy can grow anywhere and can give you a nasty rash. Dr. Vicki Herrman, pediatrician with Boys Town Pediatrics, offers tips on how to avoid poison ivy, and how to treat your child if they have a rash from a poison ivy plant.