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Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac

Also called: Ivy poison, Rhus dermatitis, Toxicodendron dermatitis 
 
 

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.

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Illustration of poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac

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National Institutes of Health

 

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MedlinePlus links to health information from the National Institutes of Health and other federal government agencies. MedlinePlus also links to health information from non-government Web sites. See our disclaimer about external links and our quality guidelines.