Allergy: Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
- Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Overview
- Why Does Exposure to Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Cause a Rash?
- What Symptoms and Signs Accompany a Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Rash?
- When Should Someone Seek Medical Care for a Poison Ivy, Oak, or Sumac Rash?
- What Types of Specialists Treat Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac?
- What Tests to Doctors Use to Diagnose a Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Rash?
- What Are Treatment Options for a Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Rash?
- What Are Remedies for Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Rash?
- What Is the Medical Treatment for Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Rash?
- Are There Medications for Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Rash?
- Follow-up Care for Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Rash
- Are There Ways to Prevent Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Rash?
- What Is the Prognosis for Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Rashes?
- Where Can People Find More Information on Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac?
- Read more on Allergy: Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac from Healthwise
- Allergy: Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Topic Guide
What Are Remedies for Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Rash?
If someone is exposed to any of these plants or their oils, wash thoroughly with soap and water as soon as possible. An alternative is rubbing alcohol, which can dissolve and remove the oils from the skin. If the oil is removed within 10 minutes, it's much less likely a rash will develop.
Symptoms from a mild rash can sometimes be relieved by the following home remedies:
- Cool compresses with water or milk may help alleviate the itch.
- Calamine is a nonprescription lotion.
- Aveeno oatmeal bath is a product that's put in the bath to relieve itching.
- Burow's solution (Domeboro) can be applied as a compress to blisters to help relieve skin irritation.
- Oral antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), may make someone too drowsy to drive a car or to operate machinery safely.
Nonprescription corticosteroid (for example, hydrocortisone) creams usually do not help.
Do not use bleach to cleanse rash from poison ivy, oak, or sumac. These areas are open wounds, and bleach is a harsh substance that can damage the skin and slow the healing process.
Do not attempt to treat severe (or anaphylactic, see above) reactions or to "wait it out" at home. Go immediately to the nearest emergency department or preferably, call 911 and take an ambulance. Here are some things to do while waiting for the ambulance:
- Stay calm.
- Prevent further exposure to the "poisonous" plant.
- Take an antihistamine (one to two tablets or capsules of diphenhydramine [Benadryl]) if it's possible to swallow without difficulty.
- If someone is wheezing or having difficulty breathing, use an inhaled bronchodilator such as albuterol (Proventil) or epinephrine (Primatene Mist) if one is available. These inhaled medications open up (dilate) the airway.
- If someone is feeling lightheaded or faint, lie down and raise the legs higher than the head to help blood flow to the brain.
- If someone has been given an epinephrine kit (EpiPen) for a previous allergic reaction, inject the person or oneself as instructed. The kit provides a premeasured dose of epinephrine, a prescription drug that rapidly reverses the most serious symptoms (see Follow-up).
- If at all possible, someone should be prepared to tell medical personnel what medications the afflicted individual takes and his or her allergy history.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/6/2016
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