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Poison Ivy, Oak, or Sumac: Rash From Indirect Contact

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Topic Overview

The oil (urushiol) that causes the rash from poison ivy, oak, or sumac can be spread to skin from:

  • Sporting equipment, such as fishing rods, balls, baseball bats and gloves, and hockey sticks.
  • Lawn and garden tools, such as lawn mower handles, rakes, and gardening gloves.
  • Clothing, shoes, gloves, pants, and footwear that have brushed against the plants.
  • Animal fur. Unlike people, animals do not get a rash when exposed to poison ivy. But they can easily carry the oil on their fur, where it may be spread to people who touch the animals.
  • Exposure to smoke. Urushiol from burning poison ivy, oak, or sumac attaches to smoke particles and can cause a rash on any part of the body.

Clothing and any other item that may have urushiol on it should be washed thoroughly. Pets who have been in areas containing poison ivy, oak, or sumac should be washed with pet shampoo to remove any oil from their fur.

Recommended Related to First Aid

Understanding Insect and Spider Bites -- Treatment

For insect bites and spider bites that aren't serious, the goal of treatment is simply to relieve discomfort. If the bite or sting causes a severe reaction, seek immediate medical help. Always be sure your tetanusimmunization is current. General insect bites: The discomfort of many insect bites can be soothed by an ice cube, a cold washcloth, calamine lotion, a paste of baking soda, or an over-the-counter hydrocortisone ointment. For mosquito or other minor bites, apply calamine lotion...

Read the Understanding Insect and Spider Bites -- Treatment article > >


WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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