What’s Going Around: COVID-19, viral illnesses, seasonal allergies

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Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health Physicians Roseville Pediatrics reports ongoing cases of COVID-19, spanning all age groups but in relatively low numbers consistent with the last two weeks.

They continue to report ongoing viral colds and seasonal allergies. With the increase in warmer weather, there are increasing concerns for sunburn, tick bites and poison ivy.

Dr. Joan Thode offered these additional notes about poison ivy:

“Poison ivy is caused by the immune system’s reaction to the oils found on specific types of plants. These rashes tend to be only in the location of exposure to the plant or to the plant’s oils, which often makes these rashes occur only on very specific places on the body. The poison ivy rash is typically very red and intensely itchy due to the inflammatory reaction of the skin’s immune system. Poison ivy causes a vesicular rash, meaning that it causes bubbles in the skin that are filled with fluid. Contact with the rash does not spread the rash, assuming that the oils from the plant are off of the skin. If the oils are still on the person’s skin or clothes, that oil can be transferred to another person, causing the rash on their skin. When these bubbles rupture, they can leave an area of red, raw-appearing skin that will eventually scab over and heal.

It’s imperative to find and wipe off any objects that may have come in contact with the oils on poison ivy leaves, such as dog fur, backpacks, and clothing, as the oil will stay on these objects and can be transferred to skin long after the initial exposure. Oils do not evaporate, and these oils can stay on surfaces for days to weeks. That’s why it’s also important to thoroughly wash hands, arms and other exposed skin immediately after hikes to rinse away any potential oils from unseen poison ivy.

Treatment is typically conservative, but if the rash is widespread or on the face, oral steroids may be indicated. For the raw skin that can occur, your child’s doctor may also prescribe an antibiotic cream or oral medication, as these areas of broken skin can be a high risk for bacterial infection. Cool baths and drying agents, such as calamine lotion, can help provide relief.”

UPMC Children’s Community Pediatrics in York and Spring Grove says sick complaints have slowed down and they are seeing more mild viral illness and seasonal allergies.

Spring allergies are starting to appear. Allergic rhinitis causes runny nose, itchy nose and eyes, sneezing, nasal congestion, and sometimes an itchy or scratchy throat from the post-nasal drainage. Allergies should never cause a fever. And although some children feel a bit tired from their allergy symptoms, they should still be able to go to school and be active through the day. If your child appears ill, feverish and complaining of a sore throat, is eating less, or has a wet cough, this is not likely allergies, and you should take them to their medical provider. Most cases of allergic rhinitis respond well to over-the-counter antihistamines. Ask your doctor or medical provider which antihistamine would be best for your child.

WellSpan Pediatric Medicine physicians across the Midstate are seeing acute gastroenteritis and viral syndromes other than COVID-19, along with allergy, asthma and eczema exacerbations.

The CVS MinuteClinic in York saw contact dermatitis, allergic rhinitis and viral upper respiratory infections.

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