The rash is caused by skin contact with the oils (resin) of certain plants. The oils most often enter the skin rapidly.
Poison ivy typically grows in the form of a vine, often along riverbanks. It can be found throughout much of the United States.
This plant grows in the form of a shrub and has 3 leaves similar to poison ivy. Poison oak is mostly found on the West Coast.
This plant grows as a woody shrub. Each stem contains 7 to 13 leaves arranged in pairs. Poison sumac grows abundantly along the Mississippi River.
AFTER CONTACT WITH THESE PLANTS
Smoke from burning these plants can cause the same reaction.
In case of an allergy:
First aid includes:
These steps can help you avoid contact:
Other steps include:
The reaction can vary from mild to severe. In rare cases, the person with the rash needs to be treated in the hospital. The worst symptoms are often seen during days 4 to 7 after coming in contact with the plant. The rash may last for 1 to 3 weeks.
Get emergency medical treatment right away if:
Call your provider if:
Freeman EE, Paul S, Shofner JD, Kimball AB. Plant-induced dermatitis. In: Auerbach PS, Cushing TA, Harris NS, eds. Auerbach's Wilderness Medicine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 64.
Habif TP. Contact dermatitis and patch testing. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 4.
Marco CA. Dermatologic presentations. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 110.
Review Date: 8/26/2017
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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