Poison Ivy - Signs and Symptoms

What signs and symptoms did you experience from poison ivy, poison oak and, poison sumac.

Share your story with others:

MedicineNet appreciates your comment. Your comment may be displayed on the site and will always be published anonymously.Patient Comments FAQs

Enter your Comment

Tell us a bit about your background to make your comments more useful to other MedicineNet users. (Optional)

Screen Name: *

Gender of Patient: Male Female

Age Range of Patient:

I am a: Patient Caregiver

* Screen Name will appear next to the published comment. Please do not include your full name or email address.

By submitting your comment, and other materials (collectively referred to as a "Submission") to MedicineNet, you grant MedicineNet permission to use, copy, transmit, publish, display, edit and modify your Submission in connection with its Web site. MedicineNet will not pay you for your Submission. You represent that you have all rights necessary for MedicineNet to use your Submission as set forth above.

Please keep these guidelines in mind when writing your comment:

  • Please make sure you address the question asked.
  • Due to the overwhelming number of comments received, not all comments will be published.
  • When selecting comments to publish, our staff will choose those that are educational and complement the topic. Please try to stay on topic.
  • Your comment may be edited. We would typically edit comments to make them clearer and more readable. We will remove personal information such as last names, email and web addresses, and other potentially harmful information.
  • We will not notify you if your comment has been published. We suggest that you check back on the topic article regularly.
  • We do not provide medical or healthcare advice, treatment, or diagnosis.

Thank you for participating!

I have read and agree to abide by the MedicineNet Terms and Conditions and the MedicineNet Privacy Policy (required).

To prevent our systems from spam, please complete the following prior to submitting your comment.

Please select the white square:

What are the signs and symptoms of the poison ivy, poison ask, and poison sumac rash?

Signs and symptoms are related both to the sensitivity of the individual as well as the severity of exposure. While over half of people are sensitive to poison ivy, oak, or sumac and will react by developing the characteristic rash, about a significant percentage of the population is highly sensitive and may have particularly severe symptoms or develop symptoms after a very mild exposure.

The rash usually starts one or two days after exposure, though the delay between contact and its onset can be longer, up to several days. This may lead to confusion over where the exposure took place. The first signs of the rash are curved lines of red, itchy bumps or blisters. These continue to appear for many days, even up to two to three weeks due to a slow reaction to absorbed urushiols and depending on how much resin touched the skin at a given point. This makes it seem as though the rash is "spreading," although the fluid in blisters is just part of the allergic reaction and contains no chemicals or bacteria. It also makes it appear that there may still be poison ivy in clothes and/or on pets. Although this is theoretically possible, repeated washing of these often produces no improvement.

In rare situations, the eyes, airway, and lungs may be affected if exposed to smoke from burning plants.

Poison ivy, oak, or sumac is not contagious, neither from one person to someone else nor from one part of the body to another.

Many references emphasize that animals can carry the poisonous resin. There's no doubt this is true, but its practical significance may be limited. The first sign of poison ivy, after all, is usually a curved line of rash on the skin. Your poison ivy is more likely to have come from a stem or leaf that dragged against the skin, not from your pet.

Return to Poison Ivy


Get the latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!