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Poison Ivy - Oak - Sumac

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Does this describe your child's symptoms?

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Poison Ivy Plant (Example 1)

Poison Ivy Rash on Forearm

Poison Ivy Rash on Wrist

Poison Ivy Plant (Example 2)

Poison Oak Plant

Poison Sumac Plant

Definition

  • A very itchy, blistering rash caused by contact with the poison ivy plant

Symptoms

  • Localized redness, swelling, and weeping blisters

  • Located on exposed body surfaces (such as the hands) or areas touched by the hands (e.g., the face or genitals). May be carried by pets.

  • Extreme itchiness

  • Onset 1 or 2 days after the patient was in a forest or field

  • Rash is shaped like streaks or lines

Cause

  • Caused by oil from poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac plants

  • The oil is found in the leaves, stems, berries and roots of the plant.

  • May be carried by pets.

Return to School

  • Poison ivy or oak is not contagious to others. No need to miss any school or child care.

If not, see these topics

  • It doesn't look like poison ivy, see RASH - LOCALIZED AND CAUSE UNKNOWN.

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When to Call Your Doctor

call now

Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If

  • Your child looks or acts very sick

  • Difficulty breathing or severe coughing following exposure to burning weeds

  • Looks infected (e.g., soft yellow scabs, pus or spreading redness)

  • You think your child needs to be seen urgently

call within 24 hours

Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If

  • You think your child needs to be seen, but not urgently

  • Swelling is severe (e.g., the eyes are swollen shut)

  • Severe poison ivy reaction in the past

  • Rash involves more than one fourth of the body

  • Face, eyes, lips or genitals are involved

  • Severe itching (e.g., can't sleep)

  • Big blisters or oozing sores

  • Taking oral steroids for over 24 hours and rash becoming worse

call within 24 hours

Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If

  • You have other questions or concerns

  • Rash lasts longer than 3 weeks

home care

Parent Care at Home If

  • Mild poison ivy or sumac and you don't think your child needs to be seen

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HOME CARE ADVICE FOR MILD POISON IVY

  1. Steroid Cream: Apply 1% hydrocortisone cream (no prescription needed) 4 times per day to reduce itching. Keep the cream in the refrigerator (Reason: It feels better if applied cold).

  2. Local Cold: Soak the involved area in cool water for 20 minutes or massage it with an ice cube as often as necessary to reduce itching and oozing.

  3. Antihistamines: If itching persists, give Benadryl (no prescription needed) orally every 6 hours as needed (see Dosage table).

  4. Avoid Scratching: Cut the fingernails short and discourage scratching to prevent a secondary infection from bacteria.

  5. More Poison Ivy:

    • If new blisters occur several days after the first ones, your child probably has ongoing contact with poison ivy oil.

    • To prevent recurrences, bathe all dogs or other pets.

    • Also, wash all clothes and shoes that were with your child on the day of exposure.

  6. Contagiousness:

    • Poison ivy or oak is not contagious to others.

    • The fluid from the blisters or rash cannot cause poison ivy.

    • No need to miss any school or child care.

  7. Expected Course: Usually lasts 2 weeks. Treatment reduces the severity of symptoms, not how long they last.

  8. Call Your Doctor If:

    • Poison ivy lasts for over 3 weeks

    • It looks infected

    • Your child becomes worse

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.

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