Keeping Kids Healthy Advice
Some plants, such as poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac can cause an allergic reaction in the form of a rash or swelling. An allergic reaction to these plants is caused by a substance called urushiol, which is a colorless, odorless oil that is contained in the plant’s leaves.
Mild rashes from poisonous plants can be treated at home. These rashes cause discomfort due to itching, burning and blistering, but severe rashes that cover most of the body, require medical treatment.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction to a poisonous plant include an itchy or burning rash that appears within 2 to 3 days. The rash will first appear as small red bumps that usually blister. They may sometimes appear as straight lines or streaks on the child’s skin and may begin to look crusty as they heal.
If your child comes in contact with poison ivy, you should:
Immediately wash the skin and scrub under the fingernails with soap and water. Put your child in the shower, rather than the bath because the oil from the plant can get into the bath water and spread to other parts of the body.
Use calamine lotion for itching (avoid using on face, especially near the eyes, or on the genitals) or give an oral antihistamine, such as Benadryl or Claritin.
Cut your child’s fingernails short so that he or she does not break the skin when scratching.
Place cool compresses on your child’s skin to soothe the pain.
Wash all recently worn clothing, as well as any outdoor items that may have come into contact with the plant.
Call your doctor if:
The rash covers a large part of the body or is on the genitals or face
The skin is very red, warm, there is severe pain, swelling, or pus.
The rash continues to get worse.
Take your child to the emergency room if he or she:
Has a known severe allergy to poison ivy/oak/sumac
Complains of tightness in his or her chest or has difficulty breathing
Feels dizzy or lightheaded
Has swelling around the nose or mouth
Is hoarse or has trouble speaking
Has redness or swelling over most of the body
Learn to identify poison ivy, oak and sumac and teach your child what they look like and to stay away from them. Always dress your child in long-sleeved shirts and pants if he or she will be in areas where poison plants grow or avoid the areas.