Poison ivy, oak, and sumac
Our team of professionals and staff believe that informed patients are better equipped to make decisions regarding their health and well-being. For your personal use, we have created an extensive patient library covering an array of educational topics, which can be found on the side of each page. Browse through these diagnoses and treatments to learn more about topics of interest to you.
As always, you can contact our office to answer any questions or concerns.
Poison ivy, oak and sumac: Overview
Many people get a rash from poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. This rash is caused by an oil found in the plants. This oil is called urushiol (you-ROO-shee-all).
The itchy, blistering rash often does not start until 12 to 72 hours after you come into contact with the oil.
The rash is not contagious and does not spread. It might seem to spread, but this is a delayed reaction.
Most people see the rash go away in a few weeks. If you have a serious reaction, you need to see a doctor right away. Swelling is a sign of a serious reaction — especially swelling that makes an eye swell shut or your face to swell.
If you have trouble breathing or swallowing, go to an emergency room immediately.
Image used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.