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How can poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac cause skin allergies?

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When parts of the leaves of these plants are damaged or bruised, they release an oil called urushiol. And if that gets on your skin, it causes an itchy red rash with bumps or blisters.

You can treat the rash with wet compresses, calamine lotion, oatmeal baths, or hydrocortisone cream. But see a doctor right away if your reaction is severe or if you breathed in the oil, perhaps from burning plants.

SOURCES:

Nelson, J. Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, October 2010.

Columbia University Department of Dermatology: "Skin Allergies: Contact Dermatitis and Patch Testing."

CDC: "Poisonous Plants."

American Osteopathic College of Dermatology: "Nickel Allergy."

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology: "Latex Allergy," "Contact Dermatitis."

World Allergy Organization: "Contact Dermatitis."

Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. "Clothing Dermatitis and Clothing-Related Skin Conditions," August 2001.

DermNet New Zealand: "Contact allergy to preservatives," "Allergy to imidazolidinyl urea."

Handa, S. Indian Journal of Dermatology, Nov-Dec. 2011.

Cleveland Clinic: "Drug Eruptions."

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: "Contact Dermatitis."

Reviewed by Debra Jaliman on September 5, 2019

SOURCES:

Nelson, J. Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, October 2010.

Columbia University Department of Dermatology: "Skin Allergies: Contact Dermatitis and Patch Testing."

CDC: "Poisonous Plants."

American Osteopathic College of Dermatology: "Nickel Allergy."

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology: "Latex Allergy," "Contact Dermatitis."

World Allergy Organization: "Contact Dermatitis."

Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. "Clothing Dermatitis and Clothing-Related Skin Conditions," August 2001.

DermNet New Zealand: "Contact allergy to preservatives," "Allergy to imidazolidinyl urea."

Handa, S. Indian Journal of Dermatology, Nov-Dec. 2011.

Cleveland Clinic: "Drug Eruptions."

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: "Contact Dermatitis."

Reviewed by Debra Jaliman on September 5, 2019

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