Allergic Skin Reaction?

Contact Dermatitis Education with Dr. Brian Matthys

Red, itchy, blistery skin?

As flowers bloom, contact allergens also bloom.

One of the most common rashes we see is contact dermatitis or an allergy to something from the outdoors like poison ivy, poison oak or sumac.


Poison ivy, poison oak and sumac are a contact allergen based on the oils produced by the plants. Upon touching the green leafed flowering plant, the oily resin called urushiol causes a blistering, itchy eruption that spreads via the oil to all places touched.

Typically, the oil comes from the leaves and the rash may occur 12-48 hours after the exposure. It happens by direct touch of plant, contaminated objects (including pets), or the burning of these plants.



  • A blistery rash
  • Red, itchy skin
  • Swelling

The oil can leave a dark black resin which, if touched can spread. The fluid from poison ivy blisters is not contagious.


Prevention is ideal and this is achieved by avoiding the plant, wearing protective clothing, removing the plants once identified, and washing your skin or pet’s skin after potential exposure.

If you are exposed, the following treatments are recommended depending on the severity of the case.

  • Oatmeal bath
  • Calamine lotion
  • Topical corticosteroid
  • Oral prednisone if very severe
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