Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac are plants that can cause a skin rash upon contact. The red, itchy rash often shows up in lines or streaks and may cause fluid-filled blisters or large, raised hives.
The rash is caused by an allergic reaction to an oil in poison ivy, oak, and sumac. The rash may occur when you touch the plant or when you touch clothing, pet fur, sporting gear, gardening tools, or other objects that have come in contact with one of these plants.
You cannot catch or spread the rash, even if you touch it or the blister fluid, because the plant oil will already have been absorbed or washed off the skin. The rash may seem to be spreading, but either it is still developing from earlier contact or you have touched something that still has the plant oil on it.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
The best way to prevent future rashes is to learn to identify these plants and avoid them.
When you can't avoid contact with the plants:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: October 5, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
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