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

Are There Ways to Prevent 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. 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 the oil can be transferred from people, pets, or objects. Thoroughly wash anything that may carry the oil.

What Is the Prognosis for Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Rashes?

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.

Complications of poison ivy, oak, or sumac rash include infections, which usually happens as a result of scratching the skin. Redness, pain, and pus surrounding a rash 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.

In rare instances, complications can result if the airway and lungs are exposed to smoke from burning poison ivy, oak, or sumac plants.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/6/2016

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Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac - Remedies

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Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac - Treatment

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

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

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