Nurses Notes – June 2020

I’ve already met up with poison ivy this spring. How about you? I think I must have pulled up some roots as I didn’t see any foliage. Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac are plants that contain an irritating, oily sap called urushiol. Urushiol triggers an allergic reaction when it comes into contact with skin, resulting in an itchy rash, which can appear within hours of exposure or up to several days later. A person can be exposed to urushiol directly or by touching objects — such as gardening tools, camping equipment, and even a pet’s fur — that have come into contact with the sap of one of the poi-son plants. Symptoms generally occur in the following phases: 1. The skin becomes red and itchy. 2. A rash erupts on the skin, often in a pattern of streaks or patches from where the plant has come into contact with the skin. 3. The rash develops into red bumps, called papules, or large, oozing blisters. The best treatment is prevention. Leaves of three, let it be, works for poison ivy. If you aren’t familiar with these plants, Google them now so you know what they look like. There really is no cure. If you think you have been exposed, shower right away. Antihistamines may be helpful, and can cause drowsiness. Topical treatments, such as calamine, Benadryl, hydrocortisone may help. Apply cool compresses. Preparation H (yes, really) has antidotal reports of helping. Oral steroids are helpful in more severe cases.

We’ve been seeing lots of information and opinions on wearing cloth masks in public places. They are not as effective as medical grade and respirators (N95). We went into the pandemic short on masks and other protective gear for health care workers due to the severe flu season in the winter. (If you remember, many schools closed briefly due to student and educators illnesses.) When we started taking Covid 19 seriously, the general public was instructed to NOT wear masks, that wasn’t because it was a bad idea. It was because we had a national shortage and our front line caregivers needed all the supply available. Then hospitals ran out and started using cloth masks. Not an ideal situation. Then the public was advised to start wearing cloth masks when out.

What we’re hearing from some folks now is that wearing cloth masks isn’t safe and we are more likely to get the virus if we do wear one. That COULD be true if not worn correctly. Cloth masks should be made of at least two layers of different fabric. The side you chose to wear on the inside should always be on the inside. Otherwise those little germs and critters that land on the outside of the mask will end up by your nose and mouth if you turn the outside inside. The mask should cover your nose and mouth at all times. There should be something inside the mask to help seal it to your nose. I use pipe cleaners. Just as you shouldn’t touch your face, you shouldn’t touch your mask. If you need to adjust it use hand sanitizer before and after. After wearing your mask in a public place, wash it. It’s a good idea to have more than one so you can switch them out. I saw a meme comparing wearing a mask to wearing underwear. Don’t adjust or even touch them in public. Wash them often. Make sure everything is covered that should be.


Christy Friedel, R.N., Parish Nurse, Spiritual Director, 269-535-1032

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