Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac all produce an oil called urushiol. Most people have some sensitivity to urushiol although it varies in how extreme the reaction is. Within several days after being in contact with any of these plants, a red, itchy rash consisting of small bumps and blisters can appear on the skin.
Poison ivy grows as a vine in the East, Midwest, and South. It grows as a shrub in far Northern and Western United States, Canada, and around the Great Lakes. Poison oak grows as a shrub in the East, or as a vine or a shrub in the West. Poison sumac is found in standing water in peat bogs in the Northeast and Midwest and in swampy areas in parts of the Southeast.
If you do come in contact with poison ivy/oak or sumac, it usually is best to wash the affected area with a rough, soapy rag. Think of it a lot like engine oil, rub it off with long strokes with the soapy rag.
A rash from poison ivy, oak, or sumac should clear on its own within two to three weeks. However, it can cause significant itching and discomfort. If the rash is severe, has extensive blistering, or is around the eyes, mouth or genital area, you should seek treatment at Summit Urgent Care. The staff, clinicians, and doctors at our facilities will be happy to answer your questions and provide the care you need to find relief.
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