What's Going Around: dermatitis

What's Going Around: dermatitis
Dermatitis, associated with poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac is What's Going Around this week. (Source: KPLC)

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The strong winds associated with Tropical Storm Cindy likely have leaves or tree branches blown into your yard.  Before you start the clean-up process, you need to be vigilant against What's Going Around this week.

Dr. Jay Marque with Lake Charles Urgent Care says dermatitis, specifically poison ivy, is bringing more people to urgent care clinics.

The summertime and post-tropical weather is always when Dr. Marque sees a rise in the number of people with dermatitis, a skin condition related to some common plants.

"So typically poison ivy and poison oak are in clusters of three leaves, but poison sumac can be in clusters of five or seven, or sometimes even more leaves," said Dr. Marque.

As you work in your yard and come in contact with these leaves, Dr. Marque says 75 percent of people will develop an allergic reaction.

"Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac all contain a resin that causes an allergic contact dermatitis," he said.  "The contact dermatitis will cause a severe rash in some people, which can even cause plaques and blisters."

The severity depends on how much of the resin gets on your skin and for how long.

If you come in contact with these plants, Dr. Marque says you can take some immediate preventative steps:

"Change your clothes and wash it off," he said.  "There are commercial preparations that you can use to get the resin off your skin.  We recommend just dish soap and water."

It can take a few hours, or in some cases, a couple of weeks, before a rash forms.

Dr Marque says if it is minor, you can treat it at home with calamine lotion and oatmeal baths to soothe the skin, but if it is not getting better, you will need to see a doctor.

"If it's a localized rash, we'll use topical steroids and if someone has a more severe rash or they have a rash on the face, we'll sometimes give them oral steroids or an injection of steroids," said Dr. Marque.

If you will be working outside in the coming days, wear protective clothing.  Also, if you plan to burn brush, make sure it does not have these poisonous plants piled in.  Inhaling the smoke can cause severe allergic respiratory problems.

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