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When someone has a physical reaction to poison ivy/oak/sumac, it's because of the oil in the plants, which can cause an allergic rash and other symptoms.
Signs and symptoms of a mild allergic reaction from poison ivy/oak/sumac include:
- an itchy red rash
- blisters that ooze clear fluid
- bumps and blisters that may be different sizes and look like streaks on the skin
Signs and symptoms of a severe allergic reaction from poison ivy/oak/sumac include:
- difficulty breathing or wheezing
- chest tightness
- swelling of the tongue or throat
Call 911 immediately, and then the child's parents, if a child has a severe allergic reaction.
What to Do
If a child has a mild allergic reaction to poison ivy/oak/sumac:
- Immediately remove any clothing that has touched the plant or the rash. Put contaminated clothing aside and let the parents know when they get home.
- Gently wash the child's skin.
- Scrub under the child's fingernails with soap and water.
- Place cool compresses on the child's skin if he or she starts scratching the affected area.
To help prevent contact with and reactions to poison ivy/oak/sumac:
- Make sure that kids wear pants and long-sleeved shirts when playing close to plants that may be poison ivy/oak/sumac.
- Have kids wash their hands after playing outside.
Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: January 2011
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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