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Your skin is fair game for bug bites and plant rashes all summer long. Here’s a look at some of these warm weather scourges.

ee stings. Mosquito bites. Poison ivy. During the lazy days of summer, you’re under constant assault from insects and poisonous plants when journeying outdoors. Learn information about these summer problems and how to ease the itch and soothe the sting.


Poison Ivy About 50 to 70 percent of people are sensitive to the plant oil urushiol contained in poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. Once a person has been sensitized by contact with these oils, subsequent exposure produces a contact dermatitis (inflammation of the skin). Symptoms begin from eight to 48 hours after contact and consist of intense itching, a red rash, and multiple blisters, which may be tiny or very large. Typically, the blisters occur in a straight line following the track where the plant brushed along the skin. The rash may appear at different times in different locations either because Want to subscribe to Your Health Now? Log onto

of repeat contact with contaminated clothing and other objects or because some parts of the skin are more sensitive than others. The blister fluid itself is not contagious. The itching and rash last for two to three weeks. Recognition and avoidance of contact with the plants is the best prevention. Washing of the skin with soap and water prevents absorption of the oil if done immediately. Stronger solvents, such as acetone, alcohol, and various commercial products, are probably no more effective. Treatment helps relieve symptoms but does not shorten the duration of the rash. The most effective treatment is with corticosteroids. Small areas of rash are treated with strong topical corticosteroids except on the face and genitals, where only mild corticosteroids, such as 1% hydrocortisone, should be applied. People with large areas of rash or significant facial swelling are given high-dose corticosteroids taken by mouth. Cool compresses wet with water or aluminum acetate may be used on large blistered areas. Antihistamines given by mouth may help with itching.


poison oak

poison sumac

Bee, Wasp, Hornet, and Ant Stings Stings by bees, wasps, and hornets are common throughout the United States. The average person can safely tolerate 10 stings for each pound of body weight. However, one sting can cause death from an anaphylactic reaction (a life-threatening allergic reaction in which blood pressure falls and the airway closes in a person who is allergic to such stings). Bee stings produce immediate pain and a red, swollen area about one-half inch across. In some people, the area swells to a diameter of two inches or more over the next two or three days.

poison ivy

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