Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | May 29, 2013

Poison Ivy and the School Nurse

The transcript below is an actual conversation held today with the school nurse. For those in California, the most interesting part of this post may be that our public school HAS a full time school nurse.

School Nurse: Hi this is the school nurse. I have your son in my office.

Me: (silently praying: please don’t tell me he has lice).

School nurse: Your son is complaining of a rash on his cheek that’s spreading to other parts of his body. He said he got it camping this weekend.

Me: Yes, that would be poison ivy.

School nurse: He said it’s spreading to his legs and neck.

Me: Yes, that’s what poison ivy does. It reveals itself gradually over the course of a few days. My husband is an expert at getting poison ivy so we all know how it works.

School nurse: Your son thinks it’s something else.

Me: He thinks its poison sumac, though I’m not sure why he thinks that.

School nurse: Are you treating it?

Me: Yes, we’re using prescription cream we got when my daughter had poison ivy last year. It hasn’t helped the itchiness though.

School nurse: If it is poison sumac or it starts weeping, you may have to take him to the doctor and cover up the weeping area – he can’t be in school with a weeping rash. The doctor can prescribe something to make it heal faster.

Me: Okay (silently praying: please don’t send him home because of poison ivy)

School nurse: It does look like poison ivy though.

Me: Yes it does.




  1. My Dad is an expert at attracting poison oak and he used to get it in all kinds of uncomfortable and unfortunate places. He and Zach should commiserate. (Often it got on him from the family dog who went hiking with him all the time) Dogs are immune to Poison Oak, I’ve learned.

    And lice, well Zach is the right age. My nickname from second grade until I moved to a new school in 5th grade was “Licey Lips” due to an unfortunate case of head lice in second grade. I remember the whole class getting sent to the cafeteria where the school nurse (we had one in California back in the day) started pawing through my hair and said “you’ve got them. Go to the principal’s office!” No explanation just straight to the principal’s office. My lower lip was puffing out and I had no idea why I was in trouble until my mom came and comforted me.

    I still recall the scalding hot shower and the comb being dragged through my scalp. Ick!

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