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As summer approaches and the landscape turns greener, so too are the leaves from poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. When the oil from these plants touches the skin, most people (about 85 percent) develop an itchy, blistering rash. Although the rash itself is not contagious, the oil can spread to other areas of the body and from person to person if not quickly washed off after touching the plants. Fortunately, there are simple steps people can take to safely treat the rash at home.
If you are absolutely certain that your rash is due to poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac, and if the rash appears on a small section of your skin, you may be able to treat the rash at home. However, if you have difficulty breathing or swallowing, you experience swelling, or you have many rashes or blisters, go to the emergency room right away.
If you are not experiencing a serious reaction, dermatologists recommend the following tips for treating the rash and easing the itch:
A rash from poison ivy, oak or sumac usually lasts one to three weeks. If your rash is not improving after seven to 10 days, or you think your rash may be infected, see a board-certified dermatologist for treatment.