By Avery Scheiner, MD LLC
October 12, 2020
Category: Skin Conditions
Some many conditions and problems could lead to itchy skin; however, if you’ve been exposed to poison ivy, sumac, or oak you must be able to recognize the symptoms. It’s possible that you came into contact with poison ivy or any of these plants while on your typical walk or you may not even realize that the plants are hanging in your garden. If you do come into contact with poison ivy, sumac and oak here are what you should know.
You’re Allergic to the Oil from these Plants
Poison ivy secretes an oil known as urushiol. When a person comes in contact with the oils from these plants this causes an allergic reaction. You may notice a rash that forms in a straight line (as if you brushed against a poison ivy leaf). If you suspect that you’ve come into contact with poison ivy, sumac, or oak, it’s important to wash your clothes immediately and to take a shower to prevent the oils from spreading further.
You Can Usually Treat It Yourself
While the rash can be unpleasant, symptoms should go away within 2-3 weeks. Since the rash can be quite itchy and uncomfortable, here are some ways to ease your symptoms:
- Take cool, oatmeal baths to alleviate inflammation and itching
- Apply calamine lotions to the skin to temporarily alleviate itching
- Steroid creams (aka: cortisone cream) may also alleviate redness and inflammation
- Apply cold compresses to the area when symptoms flare-up
- Whatever you do, do not scratch your rash (this can lead to an infection)
Severe Symptoms Warrant a Doctor’s Visit
Some people have severe allergic reactions when they come into contact with poison ivy, sumac, or oak. You must call your dermatologist as soon as possible if:
- Pus develops on the rash
- You also have a fever over 100 F
- You experience severe itching
- The rash keeps spreading
- You aren’t sure whether the rash is caused by poison ivy, oak, or sumac
- The rash spreads to the mouth or the eyes
- Symptoms don’t improve within a week
From poison ivy rashes to psoriasis, a dermatologist can treat a wide range of skin conditions and provide you with the treatment you need. If you have concerns about symptoms you are experiencing, call your dermatologist right away.