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Allergies

Is there an Ivy Block Injection?

04/21/1999

Question:

I know this is not allergy, but thought you might be able to help. I get poison ivy 5-6 times per season and I have it now for the first time this season. I do not seem to come in direct plant contact for I am careful to watch for it. I have to take a Medrol dosepak and use the topical creams and Benadryl for itching. I have tried topical Ivy Block to prevent it, but there is so much alcohol in the solution it is very irritating to the skin.Any injections to desensitize me? I have called some allergist and dermatologist offices, but they have nothing to offer. Anything on the horizon?? Thanks for your help!!

Answer:

Poison ivy is a form of contact dermatitis which is a cell-mediated immunologic disorder. In other words, it is an allergic reaction to resin from the rhus plant! Unfortunately, avoidance is the best treatment and if one contacts it despite avoidance then treatment with topical or systemic corticosteroids (depending on the severity and extent of the outbreak) is the treatment of choice. A great deal of research is currently being conducted on poison ivy with the intent of developing an effective vaccine but to date nothing is on the horizon of clinical use. There use to be a poison ivy injection that was commercially available but the FDA removed it from the market as they felt it was not clinically effective. Some people who are very sensitive to poison ivy, get poison ivy in spite of careful avoidance. They may be contacting it by coming in contact with animals or people who had recent contact with poison ivy.

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Response by:

Jonathan   Bernstein, MD Jonathan Bernstein, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati