SkinCare Physicians

Beware of poison ivy in the fall

Published on Sep 18th, 2019 by Tania Phillips

Fall red color of poison oak leaves

Poison oak leaves in the fall

While poison ivy is most dangerous in spring and summer, you may still get a rash this fall. Poison ivy leaves are among the first one to turn red in the fall and their beautiful colors can fool you. We asked our dermatologist Dr. Tania Phillips to give us a quick refresher on poison ivy rash, treatments and prevention.

What could happen if your skin is exposed to poison ivy?

After being exposed to poison oak, poison ivy or sumac, many people get a very itchy blistering rash. The rash is caused by uroshiol, an oil found in these plants. The rash occurs a few hours or up to a few days after exposure. Patients usually develop itchy red swollen skin, blisters and hives. The rash can be very itchy and can spread by direct contact through clothing or touching the plant, indirect contact such as through pets and gardening tools, and even by airborne contact when plants are burned.

How to treat a rash from poison ivy

  • If the rash is severe, if there is swelling of your face or eyelids, or if you have trouble breathing or swallowing you should go to the emergency room.
  • For milder rashes, the affected skin should be rinsed with warm soapy water.
  • Clothing and any products that have been in contact with the plant should be washed well in hot soapy water.
  • Cool compresses, calamine lotion, over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream and over-the-counter antihistamines will help relieve the symptoms.
  • Try to leave the blisters alone as scratching can cause infections
  • If your rash is not improving, see a board certified dermatologist.

How to prevent rashes from poison ivy

Try to avoid poison oak poison ivy and poison sumac altogether. Wear protective clothing including long sleeve shirts gloves long pants and boots. A skin cream called an ivy block barrier and containing bentoquatam, can be bought over-the-counter, and will help protect any exposed areas of skin.

While you may associate poison ivy with spring and summer, our dermatologists advise to remain on the lookout for poison ivy this fall. You may be tricked by their beautiful fall color while apple picking this season. Beware!

You may also like:
How to prevent poison ivy rash, a springtime curse
Dr. Kenneth Arndt on poison ivy for the Harvard Health Letter

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Chestnut Hill, MA (617) 731-1600

SkinCare Physicians®
1244 Boylston Street (Route 9)
Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts 02467

Phone: (617) 731-1600 Fax: (617) 731-1601

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SkinCare Physicians®
1244 Boylston Street (Route 9)
Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts 02467

Phone: (617) 731-1600 Fax: (617) 731-1601

Medical Website Design & Marketing by Etna Interactive

The dermatologists and other medical professionals at SkinCare Physicians specialize in a wide range of dermatology treatments and services, including laser hair removal, laser skin treatment, hair transplant, eyelid surgery, body contouring, psoriasis, skin cancer, BOTOX® Cosmetic, fillers, and Thermage®. From their offices in Chestnut Hill, they serve Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Newton and Wellesley.