Signs and Symptoms:
- An itchy or burning rash appears within 2 to 3 days as small red bumps that usually blister. Blisters can be different sizes and may ooze clear fluid.
- The bumps and blisters may look like straight lines or streaks on the skin.
- The rash may begin to look crusty as it heals.
What to Do:
- Wash skin and scrub under fingernails immediately with soap and water.
- For itching, use calamine lotion (avoid using on the face, especially near the eyes, or on the genitals) or an oral antihistamine such as diphenhydramine (avoid antihistamine-containing creams or lotions which can worsen the rash and itching).
- Cut fingernails short to keep from breaking the skin when scratching.
- Place cool compresses on the skin as needed.
- Wash all clothing recently worn, plus any items or outdoor pets that may have come into contact with the plant.
Call a doctor or seek medical attention if:
- The rash covers a large portion of the body, or is on the genitals or the face
- The rash is getting worse despite home treatment
- The skin looks infected (increasing redness, warmth, pain, swelling, or pus)
Seek emergency medical care if:
- You have a known severe allergy to poison ivy/oak/sumac
- Swelling around the nose or mouth develops
- You have chest tightness or difficulty breathing
- You're sounding hoarse or having trouble speaking
- Redness or swelling widespread over the body develops
- You become dizzy or lightheaded
- Given a dose of injectable epinephrine
Learn what poison ivy/oak/sumac look like, and how the plants’ appearances can change during different times of the year. Always wear long-sleeved shirts and pants whenever close to these plants.