When Enjoying the Outdoors be Careful of What You Touch
While most people are familiar with outdoor plants like poison ivy, pediatrician Andrea Jones, MD, reminds families that there are other things that can cause rashes.
Wait! Don’t Touch That!
The sun is shining and the weather is warm. Even though we are social distancing, many families are taking full advantage of the beautiful weather to get outdoors and explore…and we all know kids love to grab and touch everything! While many of us are familiar with poison ivy, oak, and sumac, here are two lesser known skin reactions that can happen from interactions with nature.
Phytophotodermatitis: a.k.a skin rash from plants and sunlight
Several plant can cause a skin rash after the plant comes into contact with the skin and after the skin is exposed to sunlight. Unlike poison ivy, these reactions are not considered an allergy and can occur in anyone. This rash can look swollen, red, or blistering. The rash will occur area of exposed skin that came into contact with the plant and sunlight (such as a swath on the leg). While this can occur after handling limes, figs, celery and parlsey, some wild plants that can provoke this reaction include cow parsley, wild carrot, wild parsnip and giant hogweed.
The good news is that many of these plants tend to grow wild in less tended areas such as wild fields or along roads. However, if taking a nature walk, a good rule of thumb is to wear sunscreen, even if in the shade, and shower when done. If your child does happen to develop a skin rash, you can treat this like sunburn with a cool compress, acetaminophen or ibuprofen and an emollient like petroleum jelly.
Lepodopterism: a.k.a. skin rash from Caterpillars and Moths
That caterpillar might look cute, but remind your children to look but not touch. Many caterpillars contain small amounts of venom in their hairs which can cause skin reactions. One type is called a sting reaction. This occurs in places where the caterpillar contacted the skin directly. Children can feel a short-lived stinging with the appearance of red and itchy bumps, small blisters, or welts. Pain can last a few minutes or hours. Another reaction is a hypersensitivity, or allergic, reaction. This can appear as more widespread itchy red bumps or hives. This reaction can last for as short as minutes or as long as several days. In some cases, kids can develop anaphylaxis, or a more severe reaction than can include lip/throat swelling, hoarse voice, difficulty breathing, dizziness, or fainting.
For treatment, any visible hairs or spines from the caterpillar should be removed with a piece of tape or tweezers. While reactions often resolve on their own, parents can treat rashes with a cool compress, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen. For allergic reactions, parents can try giving anti-histamines such a diphenhydramine or cetirizine. Any reactions occurring on the eyes or in the mouth should be examined by a physician. Call 911 or go to an emergency room for any signs of a severe allergic reaction.
Date Published: 06/24/2020