Poison ivy, oak and sumac

Poison ivy, oak and sumac

Poison ivy and oak are shrubs or vines that have clusters of three leaves. You can remember this by the phrase: "Leaves of three, let it be." Sumac is a bush or tree that turns bright red and has two rows of leaves opposite each other. There is also a single leaf at the end of a stem.

If your child comes in contact with poison ivy, oak or sumac, they could develop an itch and rash where the leaves touched the skin. This is a reaction to the oils on the plant.

Your child is likely to come in contact with poison ivy in the spring or summer after playing outside. The effects of poison ivy, oak or sumac can take up to three weeks to clear.

Symptoms of poison ivy, oak and sumac

Symptoms can include:

  • itching
  • red rash
  • blisters
  • fever
  • headache
  • swelling
  • stomach cramps

How to treat poison ivy, oak and sumac

  • Wash the area well with soap and warm water.
  • If a rash or sores develop, put a mixture of baking soda and water or an oatmeal-product (such as Aveeno®) on the skin. You may also use an anti-itch product (such as calamine, Caladryl®, Solarcaine®, Eucerin® or Aveeno® anti-itch cream).
  • Wash all clothing - including shoes - worn by your child at the time of the infection and clean any toys or items that were with them.

If the poison ivy allergy does not get better, affects your child's face or a large part of their body, make a clinic appointment.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education, Guide for the Care of Children: Ages Birth to 5, sixth edition, ped-ah-91554
First Published: 02/01/2010
Last Reviewed: 11/16/2022