One of summer’s greatest pleasures is enjoying the wonders of nature, whether through hikes in the woods, picnics in the park or campouts under the stars. In the course of exploring the nature’s beauty, however, hikers, picnickers and campers can come into contact with plants that can trigger an allergic reaction. The sap in the plants poison ivy, poison oak and sumac contain urushiol, a type of oil that quickly penetrates the skin, causing an itchy rash. Ask-the-Dr can offer over-the-phone medical advice that can help people identify and treat rashes caused by the urushiol allergen.
Around 85 percent of people are allergic to urushiol. The first time that someone comes into contact with urushiol, there may be no reaction at all. This is because it takes time for the immune system to prepare a defensive reaction to the allergen. The rash that is triggered by the body’s defense system is a form of dermatitis, which is irritation and swelling of the skin.
Rashes can appear as soon as eight hours after coming in contact with urushiol and as late as fifteen days after contact. Because of this sometimes-delayed reaction, many people believe that the rash in contagious, but this belief is a myth. People are sometimes re-exposed to the allergen, however, through indirect contact. Urushiol can be present on items like garden tools that have come into contact with the plants. If the plants are burned, urushiol contact can be airborne.
Other plants like stinging nettle can resemble urushiol rashes but are not caused by reactions to allergens. Skin conditions that may look like urushiol rashes include impetigo, scabies and shingles. Allergies to other chemical substances can produce similar rashes as well. An online medical consultation with an Ask-the-Dr professional can help those suffering from painful rashes identify them and seek the best medical treatment. A consultation with an online doctor can also help determine if further medical treatment is warranted. For more information about Ask-the-Dr’s services or to speak today with a qualified professional, call 888-448-7633!