What’s Going Around: Poison ivy, tick bites

WellSpan Pediatric Medicine Physicians are still seeing cases of influenza. They’re also seeing cases of gastroenteritis and an increase in allergic symptoms due to increasing pollen levels. Allergy symptoms include red and irritated eyes, runny or stuffy noses, and worsening of asthma symptoms in those with this disease.

Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health Physicians Roseville Pediatrics saw a consistent number of flu cases. They saw the first case of influenza strain B, as the rest have been strain A. Providers there saw a sharp increase in seasonal allergies with the weather getting warmer. They have seen a lot of viral illnesses with concurrent sore throats and fevers.

Unfortunately, they saw bronchiolitis make a comeback in infants. Strep has held steady at about 40 percent of sore throat cases.

With the warmer weather, they also have seen tick bites, along with some cuts, scrapes and concussions from outdoor play.

Dr. Joan Thode offered the following advice about seasonal allergies:

“Seasonal allergies occur due to the release of high amounts of histamine into the bloodstream, causing runny nose, congestion, itchy watery eyes and sneezing. As long as the allergens are present, your child could have these symptoms persistently. However, if your child has a fever with congestion, it’s likely a virus and not allergies.

Antihistamine medications keep allergy symptoms from occurring. These medications are designed to be taken daily to maintain a constant state of histamine control within the bloodstream. Antihistamine eye drops can be used for eye symptoms that persist despite the oral antihistamine. Nasal sprays do not affect histamine but rather calm the immune system reaction in the nose to help decrease congestion related to allergies. If your child has a known history of seasonal allergies, it’s not too soon to start the antihistamine medication regimen.

The cough that is related to seasonal allergies is due to post-nasal drainage, which causes irritation of the throat and triggers nerves at the top of the airway to cough. Honey can soothe the cough due to throat irritation. Cough syrups and cough depressants are not suggested for kids or toddlers due to safety concerns with liver metabolism.”

With the warm weather and more time spent outdoors, patients at UPMC Pinnacle’s Heritage Pediatrics in Camp Hill are starting to come in with poison ivy this week.

Poison ivy is a three-leaved, vine-like plant that spreads among trees, bushes, and gardens.  Many people are allergic to this plant and develop a rash after coming in contact with it. It can take anywhere from one to 14 days to develop the rash.

The rash starts as red itchy skin bumps or blisters or sometimes swollen areas. More areas or blisters develop as time goes on. This is because different contacted areas on the skin may take a little longer to develop the rash. This is not because people spread the rash on themselves.

A common myth is that poison ivy is contagious. Allergic rashes are never contagious. The only way to develop the rash is to come in contact with the plant or with the plant oils that may have transferred onto clothing or gloves.

Treatment of poison ivy can sometimes be controlled with topical over the counter creams and itch relief medications or antihistamines. However, if the rash covers large areas of the body or is on the face or near the eyes, you may need a prescription medication to offer faster relief.  Call your medical provider for guidance.

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