Poison ivy: Diagnosis, treatment, and outcome

If you have any of the following symptoms, go to the emergency room right away:


  • Trouble breathing or swallowing.
  • Rash covers most of your body.
  • You have many rashes or blisters.
  • Swelling, especially if an eyelid swells shut.
  • Rash develops anywhere on your face or genitals.
  • Much of your skin itches or nothing seems to ease the itch.

How do dermatologists diagnose poison ivy?

A dermatologist can usually look at the rash and tell you whether your rash is due to poison ivy, oak, or sumac.

How do dermatologists treat poison ivy?

If you have a serious reaction, you will likely need prescription medicine. Your dermatologist may prescribe a steroid ointment that you can apply to the skin. To treat a severe case, a strong medicine like prednisone may be necessary.

If you have an infection, your dermatologist may prescribe an antibiotic. You likely have an infection if you develop a fever or have pus, pain, swelling, and warmth around the rash.

If you are not sure what caused your rash, you should see a dermatologist. Rashes appear on the skin for many reasons.

Outcome

A rash from poison ivy, oak, or sumac usually lasts 1 to 3 weeks. Most rashes go away without treatment. While your skin heals, it often itches. You will find dermatologists’ tips for treating the rash and relieving the itch as your skin heals at Poison ivy: Tips for treating and preventing.

Learn more about poison ivy, oak, and sumac:

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