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  • Writer's picturePediatric Consultants

Poison Ivy, Sumac, & Oak

Nice fall days with a little sun, a little shade, and an occasional breeze are absolutely perfect for getting outside. But as we play outside, landscape, garden, go for walks, etc. we need to remember there is some greenery we want to avoid: the trio of poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. When the leaves of these plants are bruised, damaged, or burned, they release an oil that causes the red, itchy rash and bumps some of us are unfortunately familiar with. So how do you avoid this, or if you have it, how do you treat it?


Above all, do not burn these plants! When burned, the oil will release and mix with the smoke, which may then be inhaled; inhalation of this allergen can cause lung irritation and further complications. Familiarize yourself with what each of these three look like, and carefully check your yard for any of them; wearing long sleeves, pants, and gloves during this search and destroy process will help protect your skin from coming in contact with the plants. But keep in mind the oil can stay on clothing, so as soon as you’ve completed your check and removal if necessary, change clothes and immediately wash any clothing that may have come in contact with the plants. The oil will also stay on any tools used to remove the plants, so clean those thoroughly immediately after use on the poisonous plants.


If your child does come into contact with the plants and a rash develops, there are several options. Cool temperatures can help ease itching, as can calamine lotion, or hydrocortisone creams. Oral antihistamines, such as Benadryl, can also ease the itching and discomfort. If the reaction is severe, seek medical help.

If you have any questions or want more information, please call either office or visit our website.

Information compiled from articles from Center for Disease Control and Occupational Health & Safety Administration

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