If you spend time in the outdoors, you are susceptible to poison ivy, oak, and sumac. The oil found in these plants causes an itchy, blistering rash to form on the skin 12 to 72 hours after you come in contact with it. The rash is not contagious and may appear to spread but this is actually just a delayed reaction. Without treatment, the rash will typically go away in a few weeks.

The skin rash caused by poison ivy, oak, and sumac can be quite uncomfortable, but rarely poses serious health risks. In cases of serious reactions, such as extreme swelling of the face, you should see a physician right away.

The rash usually is diagnosed during a physical exam. The physician will examine the rash and ask questions about your outdoor activities, work, and hobbies to determine how and when you were exposed to the plant and how long it took the rash to develop.

To relieve symptoms, use wet compresses and take cool baths. Nonprescription antihistamines and calamine lotion may also help to relieve symptoms. For moderate or severe cases of the rash, the physician may prescribe corticosteroid pills, creams, ointments, or shots.

If you have been exposed to poison ivy, oak, or sumac, you can walk in to AFC Urgent Care Waltham any day of the year from 8am to 8pm. Our board-certified physicians are available to examine and treat your skin rash without an appointment. Most insurance is accepted and no referral is needed.