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Ragweed Rash

Ragweed time is here again.  While you might know about ragweed, maybe you don’t know about ragweed rash. Ragweed atopic dermatitis, otherwise known as ragweed rash, typically occurs during heavy pollen days during ragweed season, mid to late August.  The rash is often localized to the eyelids, sides of the neck and crease areas in the […]

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Ragweed time is here again.  While you might know about ragweed, maybe you don’t know about ragweed rash.

Ragweed atopic dermatitis, otherwise known as ragweed rash, typically occurs during heavy pollen days during ragweed season, mid to late August.  The rash is often localized to the eyelids, sides of the neck and crease areas in the forearm.  Ragweed rash is typically red and very itchy.

Ragweed season typically begins in early August and ends in Mid-October.  Ragweed is most common in the Eastern and Midwestern United States but can be found in every state in the US. Researchers have found ragweed pollen 400 miles out to sea.  Most people are familiar with ragweed causing a stuffy or runny nose, sneezing and itchy eyes.  Ragweed pollen can also trigger asthma flares.  Patients are less aware of the skin rashes and dermatitis that can be associated with ragweed allergy.

Prick skin testing to ragweed protein allergens are positive.  This dermatitis (ragweed rash) is found in patients who have other more typical ragweed symptoms and is more frequent in younger patients.

Ragweed contact dermatitis is a diffuse rash often red and raised that develops in exposed areas, especially the face, neck hands and legs.  It is seen more often in farmers and gardeners and is more common in patients 40 to 65 years of age.  This dermatitis usually occurs at the end of August through September.  Prick skin testing to ragweed is usually negative but patch testing with ragweed containing oleoresins is positive. 

 Treatments for ragweed rash can differ.  Antihistamines and allergy shots can be helpful in the treatment of ragweed atopic dermatitis. Topical steroid preparations can be helpful in both forms of rash.  

Finally, as the temperatures climb with global warming, ragweed allergy symptoms may last up to three to four weeks longer than the season used to be in years past. This prolonged exposure due to a longer and possibly heavier pollen season may allow both forms of dermatitis to affect more patients.  This may be especially significant in allergic contact dermatitis.  Keeping the skin covered is the best form of protection against this rash.

Midwest Allergy

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