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Poison Ivy, Oak, or Sumac: Rash From Indirect Contact

Topic Overview

The oil (urushiol) that causes the rash from poison ivy, oak, or sumac can be spread to skin from:

  • Sporting equipment, such as fishing rods, balls, baseball bats and gloves, and hockey sticks.
  • Lawn and garden tools, such as lawn mower handles, rakes, and gardening gloves.
  • Clothing, shoes, gloves, pants, and footwear that have brushed against the plants.
  • Animal fur. Unlike people, animals do not get a rash when exposed to poison ivy. But they can easily carry the oil on their fur, where it may be spread to people who touch the animals.
  • Exposure to smoke. Urushiol from burning poison ivy, oak, or sumac attaches to smoke particles and can cause a rash on any part of the body.

Clothing and any other item that may have urushiol on it should be washed thoroughly. Pets who have been in areas containing poison ivy, oak, or sumac should be washed with pet shampoo to remove any oil from their fur.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Current as of March 12, 2014

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