Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac
What is it?
Skin contact with poison ivy, oak or sumac causes a rash. This rash is caused by an oil found in plants, called urushiol (you-ROO-shee-all)
Signs and Symptoms:
- An outbreak of small or large blisters, often forming streaks or lines.
- Itchy skin
- Redness or red streaks
- Crusting skin (after blisters burst)
- Direct contact: touching any part of the poison ivy, oak or sumac plant
- Indirect contact: urishiol can stick to an object: pet fur, garden tools etc
- Airborne contact: inhaling or having skin contact with particles released from burning any of the poisonous plants
Dermatologist can diagnose poison ivy, oak or sumac by simply looking at the rash.
- Severe reactions will likely need prescription medicine like a steroid ointment or a steroid pill
- Infections will be prescribed an antibiotic
- At home treatments include
- Short lukewarm baths
- Over-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone cream
- Cool compress on affected area(s)
- Avoid scratching to prevent infection
- The rash usually lasts 1-3 weeks
- The rash is not contagious and it does not spread unless you keep touching the urushiol oil that is on an object (like a pet’s fur). The rash may keep coming out for days, as it’s often a delayed reaction.
- Eyelid swelling may be seen in the case of airborne contact
- Go to the Emergency Room if you have trouble breathing or swallowing.
Learn more at the American Academy of Dermatology: AAD Poison ivy, oak, and Sumac Overview.