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Understanding Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac -- Treatment

What Are the Treatments for Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac?

First, if you think you have been exposed to poison ivy, oak, or sumac, wash all exposed areas thoroughly. If you can do this within 10 minutes of contact, many times you may avoid an allergic reaction.

You can treat most cases of the rash yourself with calamine lotion. Cold compresses -- 15 to 30 minutes several times a day -- are useful for itching and blistering; cool showers are also effective. Antihistamines may also relieve the symptoms. If you have complications from a severe case, you will need to see a doctor. If the rash is severe or wide spread, your doctor may recommend oral prednisone or another corticosteroid.

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If you do come in contact with any of these poisonous plants, be sure to clean your clothing, tools, or any gear that you may have had with you. Since the plants' toxic resin, urushiol, can remain on clothing and other items for extended periods of time, you don't want to be re-exposed at a later date by touching a contaminated item.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on March 22, 2015

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