Hours of Operation

Monday - Friday: 9 am to 6 pm
Saturday: 9 am to noon
Closed Sundays and holidays

Please follow & like us!
Follow by Email
RSS Feed
Subscribe by email
Get new posts by email:

Posts Tagged ‘Poison Sumac’

Poison Ivy and Sumac Rash Prevention and Treatment. By Our July Student Pharmacist, Calvin Chan.

poison ivy rash2

Did you know that almost 85% of people are allergic to poison ivy and it’s two cousins, poison sumac and oak (the last one is not found in Ohio)? I am sure that many of you have either seen or experienced the nasty rashes that are associated with poison ivy. What you may not know is that it is not the actual plants themselves that cause the allergic reaction/rash, but rather a substance produced by them called “urushiol oil.”

The urushiol oil is tenacious–it can stick to your skin, clothes, tools, pets’ fur and spread to pretty much everything it comes into contact with until it is washed off. Even in the winter when the plants have died, the urushiol can still be on them ready to cause unsuspecting visitors some itchy misery. The spread of urushiol is also how people commonly find rashes in places that were never exposed to the plant, because it was unknowingly stuck onto their clothes or other body parts.

So what are the best ways to not only prevent, but also treat poison ivy rashes?

Poison Ivy_Oak_Sumac


The best way to prevent the rashes is to avoid contact in the first place, which can be easy with the following steps:

  1. Learn the plants’ appearances with simple phrases:
    1. “Leaves of three, let it be” – A classic phrase that describes how three leaves will often sprout from a single stem of poison ivy.
    2. “Don’t be a dope and touch the hairy rope” – A useful way to spot the plants in the winter especially since the “hairy”-looking vines will still be present.
    3. “Berries white, run in fright” – For the telltale white berry-like fruits of poison ivy.
    4. “Leaves shaped like mittens will itch like the dickens” – The leaves of the plant will often look like they have a thumb coming off of them
  2. Wear long sleeved shirts and pants when hiking or exploring areas with possible poison ivy.
  3. If you believe you have touched the plants by accident, wash any areas immediately to prevent the urushiol from spreading further.
  4. Remove the plants by pulling them up by the root, using an herbicide or boiling hot water.
    1. DO NOT BURN the plants due to the risk of breathing in the urushiol.
    2. Handle the plants using VINYL GLOVES, because urushiol can penetrate other materials.


If you have a moderate-to-severe rash that covers more than 20-25% of your body, it is highly recommended to seek medical attention. For mild, small rashes there are several great over-the-counter options:

Chan Chrat

I hope this has been helpful in allowing you to navigate and work in the outdoors a little more safely this summer. As always, if you ever have any more questions, your local pharmacist at Plain City Druggist will always be willing to help!


Pharmacist’s Letter

American Academy of Dermatology

Recognizing “Rash” Behavior: What You Need to Know About Poison Ivy and Poison Sumac. By Our July Student Pharmacist, Rich Downs.


The weather lately may make you think differently, but summer is the time to be outside here in Ohio. We all like to get out and do some of our favorite summer activities such as fishing, hiking, tending the garden, playing sports, and doing yard work. While these activities are fun, they can put us at risk for encountering two unfriendly species of plants: poison ivy and poison sumac.

Here is what you need to know to avoid and to treat exposure to these plants.

Poison ivy is found throughout the continental United States, except for the desert. It usually grows as a vine or a small shrub, presenting as a cluster of three leaves. These leaves can vary in color and texture depending on the time of year. The leaves can be green, yellow, and even purple, usually with a sheen on the top of the leaf.

Poison sumac tends to grow in wet areas in the eastern United States. It usually grows as a small shrub or tree. Unlike poison ivy, poison sumac presents as a red branch with seven to thirteen leaves paired at the branch. The leaves are usually green, but they change color like the leaves on other trees.


Both of these plants contain the same rash-causing toxin called urushiol. This toxin produces an allergic contact dermatitis when skin is exposed to it. Coming into contact with any part of the plant puts you at risk with the toxin.

Urushiol can be spread by more than direct contact with the plant, however. Anything that comes into contact with the plant can carry the toxin on it including: pets, clothing, tools, and sporting equipment. Burning any part of the plant does not kill the toxin, but instead allows it to cover longer distances and be inhaled, which can be extremely dangerous and life threatening.

The rash that is caused by urushiol, when coming into contact with the skin, is extremely itchy. It can present as a small patch on the skin or, in more severe cases, can cover the entire body. The rash can be a red, itchy area or can present with blisters.

Contrary to popular belief, the rash is not contagious and cannot be spread by scratching. The only way for the rash to spread is if the toxin comes into contact with an un-infected area of skin. Urushiol is not contained in the blisters and, once it has been removed, the rash cannot spread.

If the rash is very severe or if urushiol is inhaled, please seek medical attention immediately.


After immediate exposure to the toxin, wash exposed areas in warm, soapy water. If you have it around, Tecnu, an outdoor cleansing agent, can be used to remove the oils as well. Wash clothes separately from other items with detergent to remove oil from clothing. Shoes and other items that you cannot wash may be cleaned with alcohol while wearing rubber or latex gloves.

Treatment of the rash depends on the severity. If the rash is not very severe, the use of calamine lotion or hydrocortisone 1% cream or ointment can be used. These products help with the itching and hydrocortisone helps with inflammation as well. Hydrocortisone should not be used near the eyes, mouth, or on broken skin. Cool compresses can also help.

More severe cases may require an antihistamine like diphenhydramine (Benadryl). The antihistamine helps with the inflammation and itching. One caution with using diphenhydramine is that it can cause drowsiness.

As previously stated, if you have a very severe rash or if the toxin is inhaled, please seek medical attention immediately.

We all love our summer activities and want to be safe while participating in them. Learning to recognize these pesky plants can be very beneficial. Knowing the treatment for the rash and how to remove the oils can prevent a very unpleasant time.

I hope this has been helpful. Now get out there and enjoy some of the ever changing Ohio summer.




Leaves of Three, Let Them Be: Tips for Preventing and Treating Poison Ivy. By Our June Student Pharmacist, Megan Chaney, Who Suddenly Feels Itchy!

Have you ever wondered: Can I get poison ivy? Not everyone is actually allergic to poison ivy, but up to 85% of Americans are. If you are allergic to poison ivy, there is a good chance you are also allergic to poison oak and poison sumac. All three plants contain the same oil called urushiol (pronounced yoo-ROO-shee-all) which causes you to itch and develop a rash.

There are a few ways you can get poison ivy, such as:

  • Direct contact with the plant.
  • Indirect contact when you touch pets, gardening tools, sports equipment, or other objects that had direct contact with the plant.
  • Airborne contact from burning these plants, which releases urushiol into the air causing the chemical to come in contact with the skin, lungs, or eyes.

After you have come in contact with the oil from the plant, the itchy, blistering rash often does not start until 12 to 72 hours later. The rash itself is not contagious, only the oil from the plant. It might seem to spread, but this is simply a delayed reaction. Scratching the rash doesn’t cause it to spread either, but can cause the skin to take longer to heal and cause additional problems–for example, an infection.

Common symptoms of poison ivy, oak, or sumac include:

  •     Red streaks or patches
  •     Itching/Burning
  •     Rash
  •     Swelling
  •     Blisters that may  leak fluid  and later crust over

Within a week or two most people see the rash begin to clear up. Here are some suggestions to help prevent the spread of the rash, as well as treatment options to help you feel more comfortable until the rash goes away:

  • Immediately rinse your skin with lukewarm, soapy water. Rinsing your skin ensures that you get the oil off of your skin and prevents it from spreading to other areas on your body or even other people.
  • Wash everything that may have the oil on its surface, including things such as gardening tools or pets, to prevent it from spreading.
  • Wash your clothing as soon as possible. The oil can stick to clothing and potentially cause the rash to come in contact with your skin.
  • Leave blisters alone. If blisters open, do not remove the overlying skin, as the skin can protect the raw wound underneath and prevent infection.
  • Take colloidal oatmeal baths to help soothe itching. You can also draw a bath and add one cup of baking soda to the running water for the same results.
  • Apply calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream to skin that itches.
  • Use cool compresses to itchy skin. You can make a cool compress by wetting a clean washcloth with cold water and wringing it out so that it does not drip.
  • Consider taking antihistamine pills such as Benadryl, Zyrtec, Claritin or Allegra. These pills can help lessen itching. Do not apply an antihistamine to your skin because this could potentially make the rash worse.

If you have a serious reaction, you need to see a doctor right away. Signs of serious reaction include:

  • Trouble breathing or swallowing.
  • The rash covers most of your body.
  • Extreme swelling, especially your eyelids.
  • The rash is on your face or genitals.
  • Much of your skin itches or nothing seems to ease the itch.

Stay clear of poison ivy and enjoy your summer!