Allergic Contact Dermatitis: Poison Ivy

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


Dermatology Nursing 

In This Article


A thorough history is the most important aspect of reaching a clinical diagnosis. Gather data concerning exposure, location of eruption, onset, progression of eruption, pruritus, occupational and recreational activities, family history of sensitization, and personal history of allergies. Ascertain if other household members are experiencing similar symptoms. Ask about systemic symptoms, such as fever and lymphadenopathy. When examining the patient, distinguish between primary and secondary lesions, and describe the location, distribution, pattern, and evolution of the lesions. Differential diagnoses may include herpes zoster and impetigo. The diagnosis is usually confirmed by a thorough history and clinical findings; however, dermatopathology and patch tests may be used to confirm the diagnosis (Graham, 2003).


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