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


  • Avoid these plants. Learn what they look like in your area. Be aware that their appearance can vary with the seasons.
  • Do not burn the plants. Burning can release the allergens into the air.
  • Wear proper clothing to protect your 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 you go out in a potentially infested area, you can 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.


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. You may have temporary darkening of your skin when the rash disappears.

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

You almost certainly will have another reaction if you come in contact with these plants again after a first reaction.

For More Information

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology

American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Poison Plants

Nemours Foundation, Allergic Reactions

American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, Tips to Remember: What is an Allergic Reaction

Medically reviewed by Donald Lee, DO; Board Certified Family Practice

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/19/2014
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The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac:

Poison Ivy Oak And Sumac - Symptoms

What symptoms did you experience with your poison ivy or poison oak?

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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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