Dr. Josephine Futrell, M.D., Ph.D., Dermatology

Expert skincare and beauty tips

Insect Stings and Allergies — June 15, 2020

Insect Stings and Allergies

Stung by a bee, wasp or ant and allergic? Excessive swelling and itching at the site of the sting, coupled with generalized itching, hives and difficulty breathing can be a medical emergency.  Put a Benadryl or other antihistamine under your tongue, and seek medical assistance immediately.

If you know you are allergic, keep an Epipen on hand and use it at the first sign of distress.  Remember, it only gives you short term relief.  Seek medical assistance quickly.  Talk to your doctor about protection and desensitization.

Poison Ivy — June 12, 2020

Poison Ivy

What you don’t know about poison ivy may hurt you.  

1) You can get poison ivy by touching clothing that has the oil on it—or by petting a pet that has been playing in the vines in the yard.  

2) You don’t have to touch the leaves to get poison ivy.  Many people get it clearing vines off fences and trees.  

3) If you burn leaves or wood with the vines on them, it can aerosolize and cause a generalized reaction.            

Have you had one too many cases of poison ivy this year?  Talk to your dermatologist about a prescription for an oral suspension that can desensitize you to the poison ivy allergen.  This must be taken before you are exposed.

What Lurks in the Yard — June 7, 2020

What Lurks in the Yard

Are you working in the yard more these days?  Here are some plants you should know.  

Poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac all contain the same compound that causes allergies in many people. It’s found not only in the woods, but in almost all our yards. Poison ivy has three grouped leaflets and often grows as a vine on leaflets and trees. Poison oak has thee oak like leaves and may grow as a shrub or vine. Poison sumac has a row of paired leaves.

If you feel like you have touched one of these plants, you must wash the plant oil off in 5 minutes or it will still cause an allergic reaction.  If you find you have been exposed, and are breaking out, ask your physician for a steroid cream to use for one to two weeks.  If your reaction is severe enough, a steroid shot or oral steroids may be the only thing to give you relief.  

Remember untreated contact dermatitis may last two to three weeks, and may spread to areas on your skin that weren’t exposed.