Poison Ivy,Oak,or Sumac - Topic Overview
Without treatment, the rash usually lasts about 10 days
to 3 weeks. But in people who are very sensitive to urushiol, the rash may take
up to 6 weeks to heal.
How is the rash diagnosed?
The rash usually is
diagnosed during a physical exam. Your doctor will examine
the rash and ask questions to find out when you were exposed to the plant and
how long it took the rash to develop. If you are not sure whether you were
exposed to a plant, he or she will ask about your outdoor activities, work, and
How is the rash treated?
Most poison ivy, oak, or
sumac rashes can be treated successfully at home. Initial treatment consists of
washing the area with water immediately after contact with the plants. To
relieve symptoms, use wet compresses and take cool baths. Nonprescription
antihistamines and calamine lotion also may help
relieve symptoms. Moderate or severe cases of the rash may require treatment by
a doctor, who may prescribe
corticosteroid pills, creams, ointments, or shots
How can I prevent the rash from poison ivy, oak, and sumac?
The best way to prevent the rash is to learn to identify
and avoid the plants. When you cannot avoid contact with the plants, heavy
clothing (long pants, long-sleeved shirt, and vinyl gloves) and barrier creams
or lotions may help protect you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Learning about poison ivy, oak, and sumac:
- What are poison ivy, oak, and sumac?
- What causes a poison ivy, oak, or sumac rash?
- Can I prevent the poison ivy, oak, or sumac rash?
- What are the symptoms of a poison ivy, oak, or sumac rash?
- What happens in a poison ivy, oak, or sumac rash?
- What increases my risk for getting a poison ivy, oak, or sumac rash?
- Where are poison ivy, oak, and sumac found, and what do they look like?
- Can other plants cause a rash?
- What other types of rash may look like poison ivy, oak, or sumac rash?
Living with poison ivy, oak, and sumac rash: