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Poison Ivy, Oak, or Sumac Treatment

Call 911 if the person has:

  • Trouble swallowing or breathing
  • Swelling, especially near the eyes or on the face

  • Trouble swallowing or breathing
  • Swelling, especially near the eyes or on the face

1. Wash Exposed Area

  • Wash with warm soap and water.
  • Washing within 10 minutes can significantly reduce the chance of an allergic reaction.

2. Remove Contaminated Clothing

  • Plant oil can continue to spread from clothing and shoes.

3. Ease Itching and Discomfort

  • Apply cool compresses for 15 to 30 minutes at a time.
  • Avoid topical antihistamines, anesthetics like benzocaine, and antibiotic ointments, all of which may make skin more sensitive.
  • Have the person take oatmeal baths.
  • Apply calamine lotion.
  • If itchiness makes sleep difficult, give an oral antihistamine.

4. When to See a Doctor

  • Get medical help if rash covers a large part of the person's body, or if the person has blisters or can't sleep.

5. Follow Up

  • Symptoms usually go away within a week or two.
  • Wash contaminated clothing to avoid exposure to oil.
  • If serious rash persists, call a doctor.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Scott Keller, MD on November 21, 2013

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