Should I See A Dermatologist For Poison Ivy? | Southlake, TX

Photo by Heidi Besen at Shutterstock

We’ve all heard of poison ivy. Many people have an allergic reaction, also known as contact dermatitis, after contact with poison ivy plants. Poison sumac and poison oak cause the same reaction. The resin of all three plants contains an oily substance called urushiol, which is responsible for allergic reactions. Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac are the most common cause of allergic reactions in the United States. The American Academy of Dermatology states that up to 50 million urushiol-induced allergic reactions occur every year.

Most dermatologists are very familiar with urushiol reactions because the causative plants grow all over the country, including Southlake, TX. Poison oak is more common than poison ivy in the western and southern parts of the country, but this is a relative comparison. There is no shortage of poison ivy in Texas. The roots, stems, and leaves of these plants contain resin, commonly known as sap, which means contact with any part can trigger a reaction. Sap is colorless or pale yellow with an oily, and very sticky, consistency.

Exposure and Allergic Reaction

Urushiol is present on the surface of intact plants, but much more of the oil is released when plants are crushed or damaged. Damaged plants may have black spots because urushiol turns black after exposure to air. Never burn poison ivy, poison oak, or sumac. Airborne urushiol particles from burning plants create an inhalation risk. A potentially life-threatening allergic reaction can occur in the trachea or lungs.

An allergic reaction to urushiol doesn’t usually result in rash immediately. Reactions generally occur within 12-21 days after the first exposure, but the rash appears only 12-72 hours after repeated exposures. This type of allergy is described as delayed-type hypersensitivity.

Allergic reactions vary between individuals, depending on sensitivity and strength of immune responses. Approximately 15% to 30% of people are not allergic to urushiol, so they don’t develop a rash or any other symptoms after exposure. On the other hand, approximately 25% of the population can experience a severe allergic reaction.

Common signs and symptoms of a reaction to urushiol include:

  • Intense itching
  • rash
  • red, swollen lines on the skin with streaks or patches
  • blisters
  • hives
  • small, fluid-filled red bumps
  • swelling

No one can ‘catch’ a rash or any other symptoms of an allergic reaction from another person. It may seem like the rash can spread to other parts of the body, but this is a misleading impression. Urushiol may penetrate thick or calloused skin at a slower rate, so a rash develops a little later. Talk to your dermatologist if new rashes appear and you aren’t sure of the source.

The most likely cause of new rashes on different parts of the body is fresh contact with urushiol oil that is still present somewhere. The sticky oil is easily transferred from one surface to another. Plant resin sticks to skin, clothing, tools, and even animal fur. Urushiol is an impressive, if extremely irritating, substance. It can stay active for over a year.

Prevention

There is no cure for a rash caused by poison ivy. Prevention is the best treatment. Anyone that spends a lot of time outdoors in Southlake, TX, should learn to identify potentially toxic plants. ‘Outdoors’ doesn’t just refer to camping or hiking. Poison ivy and poison oak can grow in an average backyard. Poison sumac could grow in a person’s yard, but trees are more noticeable than plants that blend into undergrowth or bushes. All three plants produce resin all year round, whether leaves are present or not.

Sometimes a rash can be prevented after contact with poison ivy. Remove oils from your skin immediately after contact with the plant. Ordinary soap is fine for washing exposed skin, but be careful with bar soaps.

Rinse your skin with lukewarm water before using a soap bar so the oil won’t stick to the bar and spread to other parts of your body. Use caution with wash cloths, sponges and loofahs that may pick up oil from your skin. Wash these items thoroughly or dispose of them immediately after bathing to make sure the oil won’t spread.

Alcohol wipes work when you don’t have immediate access to a shower or soap and water. Wash all exposed areas three times to make sure the sticky resin is gone. Even a tiny amount of urushiol may trigger a reaction.

Dermatologists recommend washing clothes, shoes and anything else you were wearing or carrying after contact with poison ivy. The same advice applies to poison oak or poison sumac. Regular laundry detergent removes urushiol from most clothing, but it isn’t effective for suede or leather. Bleach deactivates the oil on clothing and most surfaces.

Treatment Options

Most cases of poison ivy reactions don’t require a visit to a dermatologist. Leave blisters intact to heal on their own, even if they begin oozing or form a crust. Breaking blisters creates a very inviting entry point for bacteria that cause infection.

Unmedicated hand lotion, ice, and cold water aren’t effective against an allergic rash, but cooling the rash and surrounding skin might reduce inflammation and swelling. Most reactions heal within 10 to 14 days.

You can always visit a dermatologist for help. Burning and itching aren’t pleasant, and a dermatologist can help you manage symptoms. Dermatologists may recommend over-the-counter creams and baking soda or oatmeal baths. Other options include oral medications to counteract severe itching and steroid creams or injections to relieving itching, swelling, and inflammation.

Severe allergic reactions or an accompanying fever above 100 degrees F do require medical help. Always consult a dermatologist if bumps or blisters contain white, yellow or thick fluid that indicate infection. Untreated infected rashes can leave scars and may cause a systemic infection.

Contact Compassion Dermatology if you have a urushiol-induced rash. Sometimes we can brush up against a toxic plant or encounter sticky resin without realizing it. A dermatologist can help if you aren’t sure what caused a rash.


Dermatologist Tips: Skin Care Problems to Avoid This Summer | Keller, TX

Photo By Elena Sherengovskaya at Shutterstock

As anyone who’s experienced a summer in Keller, TX can tell you, the heat can do a number on your skin. Whether you’re out in the sun all day or you only go outside sparingly during the hottest months in the Metroplex, it’s important that you take proper care of your skin each and every time.

However, people don’t always take the necessary precautions to avoid skin damage, and the usual result is a meeting with a dermatologist to address those issues and come up with a treatment plan for their skin. It’s important to take good care of your skin all year long, but during the summer, it’s especially critical. There aren’t many things worse than having to miss out on some summer fun because your doctor spotted an issue with your skin that you could have easily prevented.

As with most things, when it comes to skin care, a little bit of knowledge makes a world of difference. By taking proper precautions, you can avoid these common issues and save yourself an unnecessary trip to the dermatologist!

Acne Breakouts

When your pores get clogged, acne is usually one of the results. You might not know it, but your skin is home to over 1,000 different species of bacteria. Most of the time, these microorganisms are helpful to your skin and produce acids that make your skin’s pH level inhospitable to harmful organisms. However, during the summer, you tend to sweat a lot more than usual, and your sweat mixes with the oils and bacteria on your skin to fill your pores.

When that happens, you’re going to end up with several zits on your skin, often in places that you really don’t want. As your dermatologist will tell you, the easiest way to prevent these breakouts is to wash away your sweat on a regular basis. If you’ve been active at all on a hot day make time to take a shower before you go to bed that evening. Your skin will thank you!

Folliculitis

If you’re like many young Americans, you’ve probably got a regular workout routine that you stick to, even on days when you really would prefer a day off. That’s great for your body, but during the summer, it isn’t always so great for your skin.

That’s because most people who work out tend to do so in tighter clothes that stick to their body and won’t get in their way while they’re lifting weights, running or otherwise getting active. Again, that’s great for your body, but it causes problems for your skin because it keeps sweat from escaping your skin. Worse, it does so around your hair follicles, which leads to folliculitis, a skin issue that presents itself as itchy bumps on your skin.

The best way to prevent folliculitis and a trip to the doctor is to change out of tight clothes as soon as possible. Ideally, you should bring a change of clothes with you in your workout bag and take a shower after you’ve completed your workout. Not only will this help you feel a lot cleaner and ready to move on to the rest of your day, but it’ll reduce your risk of folliculitis — and that will make both your personal trainer and your dermatologist happy!

Poison Ivy

During the summer, roughly 40 million Americans find themselves in search of a dermatologist because they’ve encountered a patch of poison ivy. Not everyone is allergic to the oils of the plant, but if you’re one of the people that does have a poison ivy allergy, you’re most susceptible to it during the spring and summer.

That’s because these are by far the nicest times to go for a walk in and around Keller, TX, and because of the high temperatures in the Metroplex, people tend to wear less clothing than in colder months. Plus, the clothes they wear tend to be looser and more comfortable, as many people have the time to dress casual and take more time for themselves.

Normally, casual clothes get the dermatologist seal of approval, but when it comes to poison ivy, they can actually work against you. That’s because the oils of the plant have a greater chance to come into contact with bare skin, and when that happens, you’re likely to get a rash. Your best bet is to know what these plants look like and avoid them as best as you can. If you do come into contact with poison ivy, be sure to shower as soon as possible. Sometimes, you can save yourself a trip to the dermatologist by getting the oils off your skin early enough — but you don’t have a long window to do this, so your shower has to be immediate.

Sunburns

By far the most common and most avoidable issue that a dermatologist will see during the summer is a sunburn. Unfortunately, many Americans either don’t use a high enough SPF sunscreen or forget to add sunscreen at all, which leaves their skin vulnerable to UV light coming from the sun.

Even on a cloudy day, you’ve still got to worry about sun damage, because clouds will only block about 20 percent of the UV rays from the sun. The remaining 80 percent still hits your skin, which can cause short and long-term damage.

Luckily, keeping the sun from ruining a beautiful day is rather simple. All you’ve got to do is use a sunscreen of at least 30 SPF and reapply it every two hours for as long as you’re outside.

At Compassion Dermatology, we hope that you’ll take proper care of your skin and help keep it as healthy as possible. But when mistakes happen and skin problems occur, we’ll be happy to help you address them and fix any blemishes or disorders. If you’re in need of expert care from a dermatologist, contact us to set up an appointment. We’re always glad to help your skin look and feel its best!