SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center
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Babysitting: Dealing With Poison Ivy/Oak/Sumac

When someone has a reaction to poison ivy/oak/sumac, it's because of the oil in the plants, which can cause an allergic rash and other symptoms.

Symptoms of poison ivy/oak/sumac include:

  • an itchy red rash
  • bumps and blisters in patches or streaks on the skin
  • blisters that ooze clear fluid which later crust over

What to Do

If a child has come in contact with 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.

If a child has an allergic reaction to poison ivy:

  • Place cool compresses on the child's skin if he or she starts scratching the affected area.
  • Do not use any creams or lotions unless instructed by a parent.

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: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: February 2015