RELIEVING POISON IVY

What is the standard therapy for contact dermatitis secondary to poison ivy and other allergens?
—Joseph J. Umesi, MD, Mamers, N.C.

For an acute allergic contact dermatitis, I prefer to treat aggressively since there can be a great amount of discomfort and pruritus. I generally treat with either a high-potency steroid or a three-week taper of oral prednisone, especially if the involvement is diffuse. In addition, sedating antihistamines may be useful, particularly if there is difficulty sleeping because of itch. Cool compresses with saline or aluminum acetate solution are helpful for the acute vesicular dermatitis.
—Jeffrey M. Weinberg, MD (116-7)

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