If you spend time outdoors, chances are you have been bothered by poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac at some point. Most people are sensitive to the plants' oily sap. The sap is in the root, stems, leaves and fruit of these plants. If it gets on your skin, it causes a blistering skin rash. The rash can range from mild to severe, depending on how much sap gets on your skin and how sensitive you are to it. Problems can also happen if the plants are burned. Airborne sap-coated soot can get into the eyes, nose, throat and respiratory system.
The best way to avoid the rash is to learn what the plants look like and stay away from them. If you come into contact with the plants, wash your skin and clothing right away. If you develop a rash, ask your pharmacist about over-the-counter medicines. For severe rashes, see your doctor.
National Park Service
- Outsmarting Poison Ivy and Other Poisonous Plants (Food and Drug Administration) Available in Spanish
- Poison Ivy (American Academy of Family Physicians) Available in Spanish
- Poison Ivy Dermatitis (American Osteopathic College of Dermatology)
- Poison Ivy Rash (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac (American Academy of Dermatology)
- Poisonous Plants (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health)
- Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac Rashes Can Be Serious (04/23/2015, HealthDay)
Pictures & Photographs
- Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac (Logical Images)
Journal ArticlesReferences and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Find a Dermatologist (American Academy of Dermatology)
- Poison Ivy (Children's Hospital Boston)