Medical University of South Carolina Hospital logo
Home |  Video Library | Podcast Library | e-Newsletters | Classes & Events | About Us | News Blog | University & Colleges 
Contact Us | 843-792-1414
  

Patients & Visitors

Medical Services

Maps & Parking

Health Library

Physician Portal

Careers

Online Services
Health Library
Health Topics A to Z
Clinical Trials & Research
Tests & Procedures
Lab Tests & Results
Health Assessment Tools
Treatment Options
Symptom Checker
Health e-Newsletters
Podcast Library
Video Library
Health Library
Bookmark Page icon Bookmark |

Print this page icon

|

E-mail icon

Health Library : Pediatrics

 

Poison Ivy / Poison Oak

What is poison ivy?

There are three native American plants that collectively may be called poison ivy:

  • Poison ivy
  • Poison oak
  • Poison sumac

To be allergic to poison ivy, your child must first be sensitized to the oils. This means that the next time there is contact with the plant, a rash may occur.

What causes an allergic reaction?

The resin in the plants contains an oily substance called urushiol. Urushiol is easily transferred from the plants to other objects, including toys, garments, and animals. This chemical can remain active for a year or longer. It is important to know that the oils can also be transferred from clothing and pets, and can be present in the smoke from a burning plant.

What are the symptoms of an allergic reaction to poison ivy?

The reaction is usually contact dermatitis, which may occur several hours, days, or even weeks after exposure. The dermatitis is characterized by a rash followed by bumps and blisters that itch. Sometimes, swelling occurs in the area of contact. Eventually, the blisters break, ooze, and then crust over.

Treatment for poison ivy

Making sure your child avoids the poisonous plants is the best treatment. It is important to teach your children what the plants look like and not to touch them.

If contact with the plants has already occurred, you should remove the oils from the skin as soon as possible by cleansing with an ordinary soap. Repeat the cleaning with the soap three times. There are also alcohol-based wipes that help remove the oils. Wash all clothes and shoes also because the oils can remain on these. You may use calamine lotion or oatmeal baths to help soothe itching. Over the counter 1% hydrocortisone cream or antihistamines may also help if itching is more severe. 

If your child inhaled smoking from a burning poisonous plant, has a fever, or the blisters and rash are on the face, near the genitals, or all over the body, your child's doctor should be notified. After a medical history and physical examination, your child's doctor may prescribe a steroid cream, oral steroids, or steroid injections to help with the swelling and itching.

Is poison ivy contagious?

Poison ivy cannot be spread from person to person by touching the blisters, or from the fluid inside the blisters. It can be spread, however, if the oils remain on the skin, clothes, or shoes. This is why washing your child's hands, clothes, and shoes as soon as possible is very important.

Preventing poison ivy:

  • Teach all family members to recognize the plants.
  • Make sure your child wears long pants and long sleeves when poison ivy or poison oak are in the vicinity.
  • Wash all clothes and shoes immediately after your child has been outside.
  • Make sure your child does not touch a pet that might have been in contact with a poisonous plant.
  • Wash your child's hands thoroughly.

Click here to view the
Online Resources of Pediatrics


 Sources & References

OUR SERVICES

 Find an MUSC Doctor:
 »Neonatology
 »Pediatrics General


 

RELATED INFORMATION

About This Site   |   Disclaimer   |  Privacy   |   Accessibility   |   Donations   |   Site Map
171 Ashley Avenue, Charleston, SC 29403 1.843.792.1414 | © 2014 Medical University of South Carolina

mobile web site iconrss feed iconText Messaging iconPodcast Library