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Allergy: Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac (cont.)

Prevention of Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Rash

  • Avoid poison ivy, oak, and sumac plants. Learn what they look like in the area. Be aware their appearance can vary with the seasons.
  • Do not burn the plants. Burning can release the allergens into the air, and inhaling particles from burned poison ivy, oak, or sumac plants can cause reactions.
  • Wear proper clothing to protect the skin, such as gloves, long sleeves, and long pants.
  • Bathe pets that may have the oil on their fur. Use soapy water. Do not forget to wear protective clothing while doing this.
  • Wash any clothing that might contain the plant oil. Unwashed clothes can retain the oil and cause a rash in anyone who wears or handles them.
  • Before going into a potentially infested area, apply nonprescription products such as Ivy Block or Stokoguard, which act as a barrier to the oils.
  • Remember that the oil can be transferred from people, pets, or objects. Thoroughly wash anything that may carry the oil.

Prognosis of Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Rash

The prognosis for poison ivy, oak, or sumac rash is generally good. The rash and itching usually get better gradually and go away completely in two to three weeks. Treatment should be continued at least this long because the rash can come back if medicines are stopped too soon. There may be temporary darkening of the skin when the rash disappears.

Surrounding redness, pain, and pus can indicate a skin infection, which a doctor can treat with antibiotics. This is more likely to happen if the rash is scratched so much that the skin is broken.

Someone will almost certainly will have another reaction if he or she comes in contact with these plants again after a first reaction.

For More Information

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
555 East Wells Street, Suite 1100
Milwaukee, WI 53202-3823
414-272-6071
Patient Information and Physician Referral Line: 800-822-2762

American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
85 West Algonquin Road, Suite 550
Arlington Heights, IL 60005
Email: mail@acaai.org
Phone: 847-427-1200

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Office of Communications and Public Liaison
5601 Fishers Lane, MSC 9806
Bethesda, MD 20892-9806
Toll-Free: 866-284-4107
Local: 301-496-5717
TDD: 800-877-8339 (for hearing impaired)


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/23/2014

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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac:

Poison Ivy Oak And Sumac - Symptoms

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Plant Poisoning, Toxiccodendron »

Toxicodendron dermatitis is an allergic contact dermatitis (allergic phytodermatitis) that occurs from exposure to members of the plant genus Toxicodendron.

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