With spring here and summer right around the corner, your child is spending countless hours of playtime outside. This time of year, it is critical to be able to identify and properly treat poison ivy, poison oak and any other plant-related rashes your child may encounter. The best way to prevent these rashes from occurring is to take the time to teach your child how to recognize these poisonous plants, and to reinforce how important it is to always stay away from them. Enforce the ‘leaves of three, let it be’ rule. However, in the unfortunate case that your child does come in contact with poison ivy or poison oak, take these preventative measures:
- Gently wash the affected areas with warm, soapy water. After several minutes of washing, rinse and softly dry the area. Avoid scrubbing your child’s skin harshly, as this can cause more irritation.
- Wash all clothes, shoes and pets that may have came into contact with the plant to get rid of any potential urushiol oil, which is produced by the plant that triggers the rash. This step is extremely important because if the oil comes into contact with other areas of your child’s body, the rash will spread.
Approximately 85 percent of people are allergic to poison ivy and poison oak. If your child is allergic, a rash will typically appear in one to four days after the encounter with the plant. More often than not, the rash appears in streaks on the skin due to brushing through the plants. If your child happens to develop a rash from poison ivy or poison oak, try these simple at home remedies:
- Apply calamine lotion to the affected areas three to four times a day. The lotion will help calm your child’s constant itch. The lotion can be purchased at your local drug store.
- Reduce your child’s inflammation by gently applying a one percent hydrocortisone cream to his or her affected area.
- If the calamine lotion and hydrocortisone cream do not help in soothing your child’s rash, give your child a cool bath or an oatmeal bath. Remember to avoid scrubbing his or her skin to prevent increased itchiness.
- Apply a cool, wet washcloth on your child’s affected area. The cool compress will help soothe the annoying itch.
- At nighttime, try an oral antihistamine to reduce the itchiness so your child can relax and fall asleep.
- If your child has long fingernails, trim his or her nails to prevent rough scraping of the skin, which can potentially cause an infection.
If your child’s rash does not respond to these treatments and begins to worsen or he or she develops a fever, you should contact your child’s pediatrician immediately to prevent infection. If you have any questions in regards to treating your child’s poison ivy or poison oak rashes, please contact Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow. For more information on the Association of Childcare Physicians, LTD., call 618-235-2311 or visit our website.