Minor Rashes & Poison Ivy / Oak: Emergency Room Near You
A rash is usually characterized by an abnormal change in the texture or color of your skin and it is usually as a result of skin inflammation. There are a number of things that can lead to skin inflammation leading to a rash such as soaps, shampoos and laundry detergents, but for the purposes of this article we are going to shine a spotlight on poison ivy and poison oak. These plants will cause a rash when you come into contact with them and the rash is usually due to oils found in the plant. We all like to enjoy the great outdoors especially when the weather is lovely and conducive for you to go out for some fun and activities such as camping, hiking and even taking walks through the woods. There is no denying that these activities are a lot of fun, however, they also come with an increased risk of coming into contact with poison ivy or poison oak. These plants are found widely distributed within the US and while poison ivy is mainly found in states in the Midwest and East, poison oak is common in the Western states. When you come into contact with any of these plants, in most cases you may develop itchy and uncomfortable rashes, which can be minor or severe. This article will look to highlight the signs and symptoms of coming into contact with poison ivy or poison oak, how to handle minor cases which come with minor rashes as well as when to go to an emergency room near you for the same.
Let us start by highlighting the signs and symptoms of coming into contact with poison ivy or poison oak. Here, signs to look out for include a rash that is itchy, red, blistering and swollen. If you brush up directly against the plant, the rash will form in a straight line. It can then spread to other parts of the body if you touch the affected area and touch another one that is unaffected. In most cases, the rash forms 12 to 48 hours after coming into contact with the plant and may last any time between a week and three weeks. It is also important to be able to recognize the poison ivy or poison oak plant. While the internet and pictures of the same may help, it is usually better to have someone in your area or the area you are camping or hiking point out the types that grow there. When it comes to poison ivy, given that poison ivy vines have leaves that are pointed and hang from the stem in groups of three, you should always stay away from plants with leaves in groups of three to be safe. Although poison ivy may grow as a shrub as well, in most parts of the US, they grow as vines. You should also note that in the spring and early fall, poison ivy will in most cases produce flowers that are yellow-green in color as well as berries that are white, which is something to keep an eye out for. While poison ivy leaves are usually green, they too can change to red or yellow during autumn. Poison oak leaves look similar to poison ivy so the same applies to them as discussed above. Remember also not to handle dried-up leaves or stems of these plants as even when dried-up, they can still cause a rash. Never use these parts of the plant as kindling for starting a fire too as when you burn them, it can release the oil in the plant into the smoke and if you inhale this smoke, you could develop severe breathing problems that will lead to an emergency room visit.
Next up we are going to look at how to treat minor rashes after coming into contact with poison ivy or poison oak. The first thing to note is that you should avoid scratching the rash as this can lead to an infection. Leave any blisters that form alone too and avoid picking at them as removing the skin from blisters will only expose you to infections. You should wash the affected area with soap and water immediately or as soon as possible to ensure that you remove as much oil as you can. You should also wash thoroughly any clothes you were wearing at the time to remove the oil as well. To help with the itching, take lukewarm baths or cool showers and avoid hot baths and showers as they will only make things worse. You may also apply topical products such as hydrocortisone cream which may help with the itching, although the best course of action is to leave the rash alone as much as you can. Do not apply antihistamines to the skin as this will only make the rash and itchiness worse.
Next up, we are going to look at the instances that require you to go to an emergency room near you as soon as possible as far as a rash from poison ivy or poison oak is concerned. These include cases where you are having trouble breathing, if the rash covers a large area of your body or is extensive with many rashes and blisters, if it is located in sensitive areas such as your face or genitals, if you develop extreme swelling in the face especially leading to an eyelid swelling shut or if you are unable to control or ease your itch. You should also seek emergency care if your blisters begin to ooze pus or if you develop a fever above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Hopefully, you will be able to know how to proceed when you come into contact with poison ivy or poison oak and as such you can receive the treatment you need.