How do you spot and treat poison ivy? 3 quick facts that you need to know!

On Jul 15, 2013

Derm Tidbit: Quick bits of knowledge about poison ivy to help you avoid and treat this summertime hazard.

1. What does poison ivy look like?

poison ivy
Ground -level poison ivy growing in Ontario, Canada
Image Source: Wikipedia
  • Toxidendron radicans, also known as poison ivy, is a trifoliate plant, with 3 almond shaped leaflets, that grows either on the vine or on the ground.

2. What cause the rash?

  • The sap of poison ivy has a chemical called uroshiol which causes redness, itching and a rash when it comes in contact with skin. The rash results from an autoimmune hypersensitivity to this plant and it usually takes anywhere from minutes to hours to develop.

3. How do you treat the rash from poison ivy?

  • Immediately wash off the affected body part with soap and water. Then, topical cortisol drugs can help. You may want to try the 1% hydrocortisone anti-itch cream that is available over the counter.
  • For more serious reactions, try to get in to see your dermatologist or primary care doctor and they can prescribe you a stronger topical steroid. Also, over the counter diphenhydramine (Benadryl) may also reduce symptoms.
Poison Ivy


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