Poison ivy - oak - sumac rash

Definition

Poison ivy, oak, and sumac are plants that commonly cause an allergic skin reaction. The result is most often an itchy, red rash with bumps or blisters.

Causes

The rash is caused by skin contact with the oils (resin) of certain plants. The oils most often enter the skin rapidly.

POISON IVY

Poison ivy typically grows in the form of a vine, often along riverbanks. It can be found throughout much of the United States.

POISON OAK

This plant grows in the form of a shrub and has 3 leaves similar to poison ivy. Poison oak is mostly found on the West Coast.

POISON SUMAC

This plant grows as a woody shrub. Each stem contains 7 to 13 leaves arranged in pairs. Poison sumac grows abundantly along the Mississippi River.

AFTER CONTACT WITH THESE PLANTS

Smoke from burning these plants can cause the same reaction.

Symptoms

Symptoms include:

The reaction can vary from mild to severe. In rare cases, the person with the rash needs to be treated in the hospital. The worst symptoms are often seen during days 4 to 7 after coming in contact with the plant. The rash may last for 1 to 3 weeks.

First Aid

First aid includes:

Do Not

In case of an allergy:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Get emergency medical treatment right away if:

Call your provider if:

Prevention

Other steps include:


Review Date: 8/14/2015
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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