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Contact Dermatitis is What’s Going Around. What is it?

‘Talk about uncomfortable! What’s Going Around this week causes itching, oozing and more itching. Contact Dermatitis is a condition in which the skin becomes red, sore or inflamed after direct contact with a substance, and Centra Care physicians have been seeing case numbers increase two weeks in a row.

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There are two kinds of contact dermatitis: irritant and allergic.

Irritant Contact Dermatitis is caused by contact with substances like detergents, pesticides or other chemicals. The reaction usually looks like a burn.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis is caused by exposure to which you have become allergic. Something like the metal in an earring, topical antibiotics or…

Poison Oak or Poison Ivy. Most people are sensitive to the plants’ oily sap. If it gets on your skin, it causes a blistering skin rash. The rash can range from mild to severe, depending on how much sap gets on your skin and how sensitive you are to it. The result is typically an itching, red rash with bumps or blisters.

Poison Ivy, which is more common in our area has three shiny green leaves and a red stem. Poison ivy typically grows in the form of a vine.

Poison Oak grows in the form of a shrub and has three leaves similar to poison ivy.

The oils from these plants usually enter the skin rapidly and may remain for a long time on contaminated clothing, pets, tools, shoes and other surfaces. These contaminated items can cause rashes in the future if they are not properly cleaned.

SYMPTOMS

  • Extreme itching
  • Red, streaky, patchy rash where the plant touched the skin
  • Red bumps, which may form large, blisters

The reaction can vary from mild to severe. In rare cases, the person is admitted to a hospital. The worst symptoms are often seen during days 4 to 7. The rash may last for 1 to 3 weeks.

WHAT TO DO:

  • Wash the skin thoroughly with soap and warm water. Because the plant oil enters skin quickly, try to wash it off within 30 minutes.
  • Scrub under the fingernails with a brush to prevent the plant oil from spreading to other parts of the body.
  • Wash clothing and shoes with soap and hot water. The plant oils can linger on them.
  • Immediately bathe animals to remove the oils from their fur.
  • Body heat and sweating can aggravate the itching. Stay cool and apply cool compresses to your skin.
  • Calamine lotion and hydrocortisone cream can be applied to the skin to reduce itching and blistering.
  • Bathing in lukewarm water with an oatmeal bath product, available in drugstores, may soothe itchy skin.
  • If creams, lotions, or bathing do not stop the itching, antihistamines may be helpful.

Visit Centra Care or call your doctor if:

  • The Itching is severe and cannot be controlled.
  • The rash affects your face, lips, eyes, or genitals.
  • The rash shows signs of infection, such as pus, yellow fluid leaking from blisters, odor, or increased tenderness.

Call 911 or go to an emergency room if:

  • Someone is suffering a severe allergic reaction, such as swelling or difficulty breathing, or has had a severe reaction in the past.

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