Poison oak; Poison sumac; Sumac - poisonous; Oak - poisonous; Ivy - poisonous
Wash the area immediately with soap and water. Quickly washing the area can prevent a reaction, but it doesn't usually help if done more than 1 hour after touching the plant's sap. Flush the eyes out with water.
Carefully wash any contaminated objects or clothing alone in hot soapy water. Do not let the items touch any other clothing or materials.
An over-the-counter antihistamine such as Benadryl or a steroid cream may help relieve itching.
Before Calling Emergency
Determine the following information:
- The patient's age, weight, and condition
- The name of the plant, if known
- The amount swallowed (if swallowed)
Poison Control, or a local emergency number
The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.
This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Take the container with you to the hospital, if possible.
What to expect at the emergency room
Unless the reaction is severe, you will probably not need to visit the emergency room. If you are concerned, call your doctor or poison control.
At the doctor's office, you may receive:
- Antihistamine or steroids by mouth or applied to the skin
- Washing of the skin (irrigation)
Life-threatening reactions may occur if the poisonous ingredients are swallowed or are breathed in (which can happen when the plants are burned).
Typical skin rashes usually go away without any long-term problems. A skin infection may develop if the affected areas are not kept clean.
Review Date: 10/13/2009
Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.