What are Poison Oak / Ivy / Sumac Rashes?
Poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac are from the plant oil, uroshiol, found in the plants roots, stems, leaves and flowers. Direct contact will cause allergic reactions, red rashes and sometimes blisters, on the skin. One can also get a rash from contact with the oil left on clothes, gardening tools or pet fur. The oil may also be aerosolized when burning any part of the plant. Susceptible patients include those who work outdoors, campers and hikers.
The best treatment is correct identification and avoidance of the plants. Once in contact, however, you need to wash off with copious amount of water within 20-30 minutes to prevent the oil from soaking in. Any clothes or tools need to be washed as well to prevent further spread of the oil to another body part or another person. If you do have a rash, take heart, it is self-limiting. It may last a week or two. Most rashes are mild which may be alleviated by compresses, cooling creams, over the counter hydrocortisone, and diphenhydramine.
If you are suffering from a moderate to severe rash, contact our office to alleviate the itching and (sometime) pain associated with the rash.