Poison Ivy & Poison Oak

Poison ivy and poison oak are two plants that cause an itchy skin rash. The plants produce an oil that causes an allergic skin reaction to occur. Rashes from poison ivy and poison oak are common in those that spend time outdoors playing or working.

You can develop a rash from exposure to poison ivy or poison oak from a few hours up to a few days after contact with the plant oil. Sometimes pets that have been outside will bring oils in and result in exposure and rash.

Symptoms you may experience include:

  • Blisters
  • Itchy rash
  • Redness and swelling

You should be evaluated by a healthcare provider if:

  • The rash covers more than 25% of your body
  • The rash affects the eyes, nose, mouth, or genitals
  • Red streaks or fever
  • Breathing difficulties, hives or swelling develop

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Becoming familiar with the appearance of poisonous plants and avoiding them is the best prevention for rashes associated with poison ivy and poison oak. The following measures may also help:

  • Wash the area immediately with dishwashing soap and cool water
  • Scrub under fingernails with a brush
  • Wash clothes after being outdoors
  • Wear long sleeves, pants, and gloves during gardening or outdoor activities
  • Wear rubber gloves when bathing pets that have been outdoors

Over-the-counter products may help with the itchy and rash of poison ivy and poison oak. For more severe reactions, your healthcare provider may prescribe a topical or oral medication.