Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors
"Can poison ivy cause permanent skin discoloration?"
I had a bad case of poison ivy on my legs and then on my sides, which I cleared up over time with some over the counter spray, but even thought the rash is gone and the scab has fallen off, I have a discoloration on my legs that doesn't seem to be going away. Is this permanent, or will it fade in time?
The changes to the skin that you are describing is called post inflammatory hypopigmentation. This is a loss of melanocytes, or pigmented cells, in areas previously damaged by a burn, scratch, infection, or inflammation (such as poison ivy). Most of the times post inflammatory hypopigmentation resolves slowly and completely over a period of weeks to months. Sometimes, unfortunately, it can be permanent. In order to improve your chances of healing, it is important to take care of the area of skin. Using a good moisturizing lotion daily. Apply sun screen regularly when you are out in direct sunlight. If these methods do not work, your dermatologist might suggest a steroid cream, which sometimes can speed up the rate of recovery. As always the diagnosis and the management of your particular skin concern will require a physical examination by your personal physician. Setting up an office visit with your primary care doctor or your dermatologist might be indicated if symptoms persist.
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