Know your leaves! "Leaves of three let it be"
Poison ivy, poison oak, and sumac are plants that produce oils that can irritate the skin. As a group, these oils are known to cause a condition known clinically as contact dermatitis. This oil is called urushiol (you-ROO-shee-all). The rash is not contagious and does not spread. Although it might seem to spread, this is a delayed reaction to oil contact.
If you have any of the following symptoms, seek emergency medical treatment:
- Trouble breathing or swallowing.
- Rash covers the majority of your body.
- You have many rashes or blisters.
- Swelling, especially if an eyelid swells shut.
- Rash develops anywhere on your face or genitals.
- Much of your skin itches or nothing seems to ease the itch.
How can I treat contact dermatitis at home?
- Resist the urge to scratch, as your allergic rash may become infected when disturbed.
- Wash your hands at least every hour; brown bar laundry soap works best.
- Keep your nails short and clean
- Take oatmeal baths to relieve the urge to itch. Use warm water, not hot, and pat the skin dry with a clean towel.
- Do not share towels and clothes.
- Take Benadryl for itching every 6 hours. This may cause drowsiness so try Zyrtec or Allegra OTC as a less drowsy alternative.
- Use 1% Hydrocortisone cream 3 times a day for mild rashes. DO NOT apply to any open sores.
- If blisters burst, gently remove dead skin with clean hands and apply antibiotic ointment 3 times a day (Bacitracin, or something similar over the counter).
- If symptoms and rash do not get better within 4 to 5 days, seek medical care with your PCP or at GoHealth Urgent Care. Some treatment recommendations may include:
- Prescription steroid creams. DO NOT apply to open sores.
- Oral steroids in a tapering (gradually decreasing) fashion over a 2-week period.
- Topical or oral antibiotics for secondary infections as determined by your medical provider.
We're Here to Help.
At GoHealth Urgent Care, we’re open 7 days a week and can provide immediate relief from poison oak, poison ivy, or sumac.