Allergic Contact Dermatitis: Poison Ivy

Rhonda Goodman, PhD, ARNP, FNP-BC; Deborah Hollimon, MS, ARNP, FNP-BC


Dermatology Nursing 

In This Article

Hallmark of the Disease

The presenting symptoms of ACD are vesicular lesions on an erythematous base, corresponding to the area of contact (Habif, Campbell, Chapman, Dinulos, & Zug, 2006). The lesions often evolve in a linear pattern on skin which has been exposed to leaves or from scratching the skin and streaking oleoresin. The lesions are usually extremely pruritic and appear within 12–72 hours after exposure to the allergen and may last 12–14 days. The vesicles eventually burst and weep, evolving into plaques, erosion, crusts, and scaling (Frankel, 2006). Poison ivy may be found anywhere in the United States, northern Mexico, and southern Canada and is more prevalent in the spring, summer, and fall (Wolff, Johnson, & Suurmond, 2005). Secondary bacterial infections may develop as a result of scratching and excoriation.


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