Treating poison ivy

One really common cause of contact dermatitis is poison ivy, a plant that grows in woody areas. Poison oak and poison sumac are other plants that can give you a rash, too. They all have an oil in them called urushiol, to which most people are allergic. You can get the rash from:

  • Touching the weed. 
  • Touching something that rubbed up against the plant (like petting your dog after he brushed up against it).
  • Even from being near it, because the oil can get in the air.
                poison ivy Poison ivy

As soon as you think you might have a rash from one of these plants, you should:

  • Rinse the skin right away with lukewarm water.
  • Wash your clothes and anything else you might have touched.
                poison oakPoison oak

The rash will go away in a few weeks. Until then, here's what you can do:

  • Take a cool shower.
  • Take an oatmeal bath. Your parents can buy a special product at the store that has oatmeal in it for the bath.
  • Spread on a special anti-itch cream called hydrocortisone.
  • Swab on calamine lotion.
                Poison sumacPoison sumac

If nothing seems to help, have your mom or dad take you to a skin doctor (dermatologist).

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Photo references:

Photos used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.