Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Medically Reviewed on 4/25/2019

Sensitivity to poison ivy, oak or sumac is very common. Coming in contact with the resin from poison ivy, oak, or sumac produces a characteristic rash reaction in many people. The medical name for the condition is allergic contact dermatitis.

Signs and symptoms of poison ivy, oak, or sumac rash include a mild, red, bumpy skin rash that typically goes away within 5 to 12 days. Other associated symptoms and signs include itching that may be intense, blistering, and swelling. The rash usually arises on areas of skin that have come in contact with the plants, but it can sometimes develop in other areas, as well.

Cause of poison ivy, oak, and sumac rash

An allergic reaction to urushiol, or plant sap, causes skin reactions to poison ivy, oak, or sumac.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/25/2019

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