How Are Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Poison Sumac Treated?

Treatment for poison ivy and other types of allergic contact dermatitis may involve taking cool baths or showers and applying over-the-counter topical medication (e.g., calamine lotion). Hands should be washed frequently and fingernails should be kept trimmed to reduce the risk for infections caused by scratching.

In severe cases, an oral antihistamine (e.g., Benadryl) may be used to reduce itching and redness. Poison ivy that occurs on the face or genitals and severe reactions that cover a large area of the body may require medical treatment (e.g., prescription corticosteroids).

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 23 Aug 2007

Last Modified: 01 Oct 2015