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What should I do if my child is exposed to a poisonous plant?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

If your child has skin-to-plant contact with a poisonous plant, wash the affected area with soap and water as quickly as you can -- within ten minutes, if possible. You may also want to try dishwashing liquid, which removes the oil. Wash his clothes, too. You can use an anti-itch lotion such as Calamine or oatmeal baths to soothe the itch.

Oral antihistamines like Benadryl can also quell the reaction. Steroid creams can help, and in extreme cases, your kid's doc can prescribe oral steroids in a tapering-dose pattern. After the initial exposure, a child who is allergic will develop a systemic reaction, and the rash will pop up in places that did not necessarily touch the plant, especially the abdomen or face. The lesions are not contagious to others.

YOU: Raising Your Child: The Owner's Manual from First Breath to First Grade

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YOU: Raising Your Child: The Owner's Manual from First Breath to First Grade

There’s little doubt that parenting can be one of the most rewarding and satisfying experiences you’ll ever have. But it can be plenty tough, too: Around the clock, you’re working to keep your...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.