Understanding Poison Ivy, Oak & Sumac -- Symptoms

Medically Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian, MD on July 26, 2021
1 min read

The symptoms of poison ivy, oak, and sumac are:

  • Patches of red, itchy skin, usually followed by small blisters, which fill with a clear fluid and eventually break open.
  • Severe cases can develop into swollen, extremely itchy areas.

  • Your rash stays red and itchy for more than a week; you may have another type of contact dermatitis or eczema.
  • You have the rash near your eyes or the rash covers a large part of your body. You may need medical attention.
  • You have severe complications, such as generalized swelling, headache, fever, or a secondary infection.
  • You have been exposed to the smoke from burning poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac. The toxin is not destroyed by fire and can cause severe allergic reactions.
  • Call 911 if you have trouble breathing.


Show Sources


Mark, B. Medical Clinics of North America, January 1, 2006.

American Academy of Dermatology: "Poison ivy: Who gets and causes."

Auerbach, P. Wilderness Medicine, 6th Edition, Mosby, 2012.

Ferri, F. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2012, Mosby, 2011.

American Academy of Dermatology: "Poison ivy: Tips for treating and preventing."

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