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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Poison Ivy Dermatitis Treatment Patterns and Utilization: A Retrospective Claims-based Analysis


Introduction: Poison ivy (toxicodendron) dermatitis (TD) resulting from contact with poison ivy, oak, or sumac is a common form of allergic contact dermatitis that impacts millions of people in the United State every year and results in an estimated 43,000 emergency department (ED) visits annually. Our objective in this study was to evaluate whether healthcare utilization outcomes are impacted by prescription practices of systemic corticosteroids.

Methods: We used a health claims database from 2017-2018 of those treated for TD. Descriptive statistics and logistics regression models were used to characterize trends.

Results: We included in this analysis 115,885 claims from 108,111 unique individuals (93.29%) with 7,774 (6.71%) return claims within 28 days. Of the return claims, 470 (6.05%) were to the ED. Emergency clinicians offered no oral corticosteroid prescription 5.27% (n = 3,194) of the time; 3276 (86.26%) prescriptions were for a duration of 1-13 days, 410 (10.80%) were for 14-20 days, and 112 (2.95%) were for >21 days. Further, we found that shorter duration oral corticosteroids (odds ratio [OR] 1.30; 95% confidence interval 1.17-1.44; P <0.001) and initial treatment for TD at the ED compared to primary care clinicians (OR 0.87 [0.80, 0.96]; P <0.001) and other non-dermatologists (OR 0.89 [0.80, 0.98]; P = 0.01) places patients at an increased risk for return visits with healthcare clinicians when controlling for drug group, duration of treatment, and initial treatment location.

Conclusion: Despite recommendations to treat TD with oral steroids for at least 14 days, most emergency clinicians offered this treatment for shorter durations and was associated with return visits. Emergency clinicians should consider treatment of two to three weeks when providing systemic steroid coverage when there are no limiting contraindications, especially as patients who present to the ED may do so with more severe disease. Additional education may be needed on appropriate treatment pathways for TD to reduce healthcare utilization associated with undertreatment.


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