Poison ivy rash – Symptoms and causes


An allergic reaction to an oily resin known as urushiol (uROO-shee-ol) is what causes poison ivy rash. This oily resin can be found in the poison oak, poison sumac, and poison ivy leaves, stems, and roots.

If you get in contact with the oil, wash your skin immediately. You can reduce the chances of developing a poison ivy skin rash by washing off any oil. Itchy skin can last up to weeks if you get a rash.

Mild cases of poison ivy can be treated at home using soothing lotions and cool tubs. A severe or extensive rash, particularly if it is on the face or genitals, may require prescription medication.


The following are signs and symptoms of poison ivy rash:

  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Swelling
  • Blisters
  • If you inhaled smoke from burning poison ivy, it can cause difficulty breathing.

Because of the way poison ivy plants touch your skin, poison ivy often causes a straight line. The rash can spread if the oil is on clothing or fur from pets. It is possible to transfer the oil to other areas of your body by using your fingers. The reaction typically occurs between 12 and 48 hours after the oil is exposed. It can last for two to three weeks.

The amount of urushiol you apply to your skin will determine the severity of your rash.

When should you see a doctor?


  • You have difficulty breathing because you inhaled smoke from the burning poison ivy.

See your doctor if:

  • This can lead to severe reactions or widespread spread.
  • Your skin continues swelling
  • It can affect your eyes, nose, and genitals.
  • Blisters can ooze pus
  • A fever of more than 100 F (37.8 C).
  • It doesn’t improve in a matter of weeks.


An allergic reaction to an oily resin known as urushiol can cause poison ivy rash. It is found in poison sumac, poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac. The oily resin attaches easily to skin, clothing, tools, equipment, and pet fur. From:

  • The act of touching the plant. You may experience a reaction if you touch the roots, leaves, stems, or berries of the plants.
  • Contacting contaminated objects. You might get urushiol if you touch your feet with poison ivy after walking through it. It is possible to transfer the urushiol to your skin or body by touching, rubbing, or touching it. The urushiol in the object can cause skin reactions that last years if it isn’t removed.
  • Inhale the smoke from the burning plants. Even the smoke of burning poison oak, poison sumac, or poison ivy can cause irritation or damage to your nasal passages and lungs.

The rash is not spread by pus that oozes out of blisters. However, it is possible to contract poison ivy rash if you contact plant resin still on someone’s skin or clothing contaminated with the resin.

Risk factors

You are at greater risk of a crash if you engage in outdoor activities that expose you to poison sumac, poison oak, or poison ivy.

  • Installation of a telephone or cable line
  • Camping
  • Construction
  • Farming
  • Firefighting
  • Fishing from the shoreline
  • Forestry
  • Gardening
  • Hiking
  • Hunting
  • Landscaping


Poison ivy rash can be caused by bacteria under your nails. If pus is oozing from your blisters, you should consult your doctor. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Inhaling urushiol can cause serious breathing problems and inflammation of your lungs.


These tips will help you prevent poison ivy rash.

  • Avoid the plants. Learn how to recognize poison sumac, poison oak, and poison ivy in all seasons. Avoid walking on muddy paths when you are hiking or participating in any other activity that could expose you to these plants. Outdoors, wear long sleeves and pants. When camping, ensure that you have a place to pitch your tent. You should keep your pets away from wooded areas. This will ensure that the urushiol doesn’t stick to their fur.
  • Protective clothing is recommended. Protect your skin with socks, boots, pants, and long sleeves if necessary.
  • The plants can be removed or killed. You can identify and remove poison sumac, poison oak, or poison ivy from your garden. These plants can be eliminated by using an herbicide, pulling them from the ground and including their roots, or wearing heavy gloves. After you have removed the gloves, wash your hands and clean them. Do not burn poison ivy or other plants. The urushiol is easily inhaled.
  • Wash your skin and pet’s hair. Use soap and water to wash away the harmful effects of urushiol within 30 minutes. You can also scrub under your fingers. You can reduce the severity by washing your hands after an hour. You can give your pet a bath if you suspect that they may have been exposed to urushiol.
  • Clean any contaminated items. Wash your clothes immediately if you suspect you have come in contact with poison ivy. You should take care when handling contaminated clothing to ensure that the urushiol doesn’t get on furniture, carpets, or appliances. Wash all other items that have come in contact with the oil, such as shoes, jewelry, gardening tools, shoes, or shoelaces, as soon as you can. Urushiol can be potent for many years. If you leave a jacket contaminated with oil in its place without washing it, and then take it out one year later, it may still cause a rash.
  • Use a barrier cream. You can use over-the-counter products to protect your skin from the oily resin that causes poison oak rash.



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