Poison Ivy Rash in Children

What is poison ivy rash?

Poison ivy rash is an allergic reaction to poison ivy. Poison ivy is
very common plant in the U.S. It’s similar to two other plants called poison oak and
poison sumac. The plants cause allergic dermatitis. This means the body’s immune system
releases certain chemicals that cause a skin reaction. Most children are allergic to
poison ivy.

What causes poison ivy rash in a child?

Poison ivy has an oil called urushiol. This oil causes the allergic
skin reaction. The oil is easily wiped from the plants to other objects. These include
clothes, toys, and pets. Smoke from a burning plant can also contain the oil.

Which children are at risk for poison ivy rash?

Children who live near the plants are at risk for the skin reaction. There are different types of these plants around the country. They are:

  • Poison ivy. This is a ground or climbing vine with leaves grouped in threes in most of the U.S. Another type grows as a shrub in the Western U.S.
  • Poison oak. This is a ground or climbing vine or shrub with leaves grouped in threes. One type grows on the West coast and another type grows mostly in the Southeast.
  • Poison sumac. This is a shrub or small tree with groups of several leaves arranged in pairs. It grows in very wet areas.

What are the symptoms of poison ivy rash in a child?

Your child may have symptoms within hours or days after coming in contact with poison ivy. The symptoms include:

  • Small bumps where the plant oil touched the skin that quickly turn into blisters
  • Severe itching
  • Redness and swelling
  • Blisters that break, ooze fluid, and crust over. The fluid in the blisters doesn’t spread the rash.

The symptoms of poison ivy rash can
be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare
provider for a diagnosis if you are unsure.

How is poison ivy rash diagnosed in a child?

The healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and
health history. He or she will give your child a physical exam. More testing is usually
not needed.