About Poisonous Plants

General Information

  1. What causes a poison ivy, oak or sumac rash?
  2. What are the symptoms of a poison ivy, oak or sumac reaction?
  3. Will everyone who is exposed to the plants get a poison ivy, oak or sumac rash?
  4. Why do I need to be prepared to deal with poisonous plants?
  5. How can I identify poisonous plants?
  6. What should I do if I know or suspect I have been exposed to a poison ivy, oak or sumac plant?
  7. How long does it take for a rash to appear after exposure to a poisonous plant occurs?
  8. How long will toxins remain active?
  9. Will toxins remain on my clothes, garden tools, pets, and other items?
  10. How does a poison ivy, oak or sumac rash spread?
  11. How long will a poison ivy, oak or sumac rash last?
  12. Is a poison ivy, oak or sumac rash contagious?
  13. How can I prevent a poison ivy, oak or sumac rash? What can I do to be prepared?
  14. How can I treat a poison ivy, oak or sumac rash?
  15. What is a severe poison ivy, oak or sumac reaction?
  16. How can I remove poison ivy, oak or sumac plants?
  17. What are some recommended additional resources on poison ivy, oak and sumac?

Product Information

  1. How do Ivarest products help me to prevent or treat a poison ivy, oak or sumac reaction?
  2. How does Ivarest Poison Ivy Itch Cream help me to treat a poison ivy, oak or sumac rash?
  3. How does Ivarest Poison Ivy Itch Spray help me to treat a poison ivy, oak or sumac rash?
  4. How do the ingredients in Ivarest Poison Ivy Itch Spray and Ivarest Poison Ivy Itch Cream differ from each other?
  5. Are Ivarest products safe for children?
  6. What if I or my children accidentally swallow Ivarest Poison Ivy Itch Cream or Ivarest Poison Ivy Itch Spray?
  7. How do I use Ivarest Poison Ivy Itch Cream for maximum effectiveness?
  8. How do I use Ivarest Poison Ivy Itch Spray for maximum effectiveness?


General Information


1. What causes a poison ivy, oak or sumac rash?

The rash is an allergic reaction to a poisonous, oily chemical called urushiol (pronounced "ooh-roo-she-all") that is found in all parts of the poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac plants. When exposed to urushiol, the body's natural inflammatory reaction causes a skin rash. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, a person can come across urushiol in any of the following ways:

  • Direct contact: When a person touches or brushes against a poison ivy, oak or sumac plant, urushiol will bind to any exposed (uncovered) skin within 10 to 20 minutes.
  • Indirect contact: Urushiol can adhere to inanimate objects (i.e. clothing, garden tools, sports equipment, camping gear) or pets, although pets will not react to the toxin. When a person touches these objects, even years later, urushiol can bind to the skin and cause an allergic reaction.
  • Airborne contact: When these plants are burned, urushiol is released into the air. The toxin will evenly coat any exposed skin and can be inhaled into the lungs, causing a severe allergic reaction. If poisonous plants are chopped or mowed, urushiol can also be released into the air and cause a reaction.

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2. What are the symptoms of a poison ivy, oak or sumac reaction?

Like any allergy, poisonous plants can irritate people's bodies in different ways. Typical symptoms include:

  • General redness or a linear lesion, due to brushing against the leaf
  • Itching that can be intense or unbearable
  • Fluid-filled blisters that may ooze or weep
  • Swelling

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3. Will everyone who is exposed to the plants get a poison ivy, oak or sumac rash?

Just because you haven't had a reaction doesn't mean you're safe. No reaction occurs upon initial (first-time) contact with a poison ivy, oak or sumac plant, but an allergic reaction may be induced so that subsequent exposure produces a rash. Some people develop a rash on the second exposure, but many people do not become allergic until multiple exposures occur.

Many adults and children are allergic to poisonous plants, though sensitivity differs for each person. The American Academy of Dermatology estimates that 85% of adults develop a reaction to urushiol (the toxin contained in poison ivy, oak and sumac) when sufficiently exposed.

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4. Why do I need to be prepared to deal with poisonous plants?

Poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac are by far the most common plants capable of causing an allergic reaction, and the most likely to do so. Poison ivy is found in almost all of the United States. Poison oak grows along the entire West Coast and from the Mid-Atlantic states down through Florida. Poison sumac grows east of the Mississippi from Canada to central Florida and in Louisiana and Texas.

All of these plants contain urushiol, a toxin that causes an allergic reaction in many adults and children. Approximately 85% of the population will develop an allergic reaction if exposed to poison ivy, oak or sumac, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

Moreover, poisonous plants are becoming a bigger problem due to the climate changes. The number, size and toxicity of poisonous plants have increased and will continue to do so as carbon dioxide levels rise. Higher atmospheric carbon dioxide is spurring growth, leading to bigger and more poisonous plants. Toxin levels in poisonous plants have increased 50-75% in the past half-century and studies expect this to continue. Poisonous plants are also becoming more potent, increasing the severity of rashes, and more resistant to the elements.

Find out which poisonous plants grow in your local area...

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5. How can I identify poisonous plants?

Poisonous plants can appear in various forms, sometimes making identification more challenging. Poison ivy, the most common offender, grows as low plants, shrubs and vines. Many people overlook the presence of its lush hairy vines climbing telephone poles, trees and even their garden trellis when trying to determine the cause of a reaction. Poison ivy is characterized by three tapered leaves growing out from one node on the stem and in late summer white berries; poison oak generally has three oak-shaped leaves per stem and in spring white or tan berries; while poison sumac can have 7 to 13 leaves on a stem and in winter white berries.

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6. What should I do if I know or suspect that I have been exposed to a poison ivy, oak or sumac plant?

Wash skin immediately! As soon as possible after known or suspected poisonous plant exposure, wash skin and fingernails with soap and water or a non-irritating cleanser tha tremoves toxins. This is necessary to remove urushiol (the oily plant toxin that causes a reaction) from skin. Scrubbing or washing to the point of irritation is unnecessary, however, and may cause further discomfort.

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How long does it take for a rash to appear after exposure to a poisonous plant occurs?

An allergic reaction can appear within a few hours after exposure to a poisonous plant, depending on how much urushiol was absorbed and how sensitive the person is to the toxin. If skin is cleaned immediately following poison plant exposure, it is possible to minimize the reaction and prevent the rash from spreading.

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8. How long will toxins remain active?

Even if the plant is dead its toxins might not be. Urushiol can remain active for years in dead plants and on inanimate objects to which the toxin has adhered.

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9. Will toxins remain on my clothes, garden tools, pets, and other items?

Urushiol can adhere to inanimate objects (i.e. clothing, garden tools, camping equipment) and pets' fur and remain active for years. If these items are not washed properly to remove urushiol, the toxin can still bind to your skin upon future contact and cause an allergic reaction.

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10. How does a poison ivy, oak or sumac rash spread?

A poisonous plant rash cannot spread after it visibly appears. Urushiol (the plant toxin that causes an allergic reaction) binds to skin upon contact and is either absorbed or washed off. It will not spread to new areas of skin or to other people once absorbed.

The rash may appear to spread as new lesions become visible a few days after the primary lesions occur. For instance, an arm and leg exposed to urushiol at the same time may develop the rash several days apart. This can represent (a) skin that is less sensitive than other areas, (b) skin that received less urushiol, or (c) skin that has been newly exposed to something containing urushiol (i.e. clothing or garden tools).

Oozing blister fluid or scratching the skin will not spread the rash, unless fingernails have not been thoroughly washed and contain urushiol deposits.

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11. How long will a poison ivy, oak or sumac rash last?

A poisonous plant rash typically persists for 10 to 14 days. Longevity of the allergic reaction varies for each person, however, and can be longer. If symptoms last longer than a few weeks, consult a physician.

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12. Is a poison ivy, oak or sumac rash contagious?

A person with a poison ivy, oak or sumac rash is not contagious. The rash is an allergic reaction that occurs after a poisonous chemical called urushiol binds to the skin. Urushiol can only be removed by washing the skin with soap and water or a non-irritating cleanser that removes toxins. Once urushiol binds to the skin, the rash and oozing, weepy blisters cannot transfer to another person. Urushiol can remain active on other surfaces, be sure to thoroughly clean all clothing, hats, shoes and tools that might have come into contact with the poison plant.

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13. How can I prevent a poison ivy, oak or sumac rash? What can I do to be prepared?

The best prevention is two-fold:
A. Avoid the plants. Be prepared for unexpected poison ivy, oak or sumac reaction and, when possible, limit exposure to these plants.

To do so take the following precautions:
  • Know which poisonous plants grow in your area and be able to identify them. Poison ivy, oak and sumac plants appear in various forms throughout the year, often making identification difficult. Find out which poisonous plants grow in your local area.
  • Wear long pants, socks and covered shoes when outdoors if possible.
  • Remove and wash clothing immediately after coming indoors to remove any poisonous plant toxins that might have attached to clothing.
  • Pets are generally not affected by poison plants but urushiol can remain active on their fur.

B. Wash skin with soap and water or a non-irritating cleanser that removes toxins as soon as possible after known or suspected poisonous plant exposure. This is necessary to remove urushiol, the plant oil that causes a rash or reaction, from the skin. Thoroughly clean fingernails also to remove urushiol deposits underneath nails. Scrubbing or washing skin to the point of irritation is unnecessary. Learn more...

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14. How can I treat a poison ivy, oak or sumac rash?

The best treatment for poison ivy, oak or sumac exposure is to take the following steps:

A. If exposure to a poisonous plant is known or suspected, wash the entire area of skin as soon as possible with soap and water or a non-irritating cleanser that removes toxins.

B. Apply a non-prescription medicated formula that relieves symptoms once they occur. An effective non-prescription treatment consists of:

  1. Antihistamine to stop the reaction: Apply a cream with antihistamine to the affected area regularly until the rash stops. Antihistamine temporarily blocks histamine receptors, thus preventing symptoms.
  2. Analgesic to soothe the itch: Apply a cream with a topical analgesic to affected skin to help soothe the itch. Analgesics provide temporary relief from pain.
  3. Calamine and/or medicated formulas to relieve itchy, dry skin: Calamine is a skin protectant that dries the rash. Medicated formulas also temporarily cool and comfort skin.

Ivarest Poison Ivy Itch Cream's Double Relief formula provides the full spectrum of relief from plant itch. It contains an antihistamine to help stop the reaction and analgesics to soothe the itch fast. It also contains calamine and other ingredients that soothe skin itch and dry oozing, weeping blisters.

Ivarest Poison Ivy Itch Spray is the perfect complement to Ivarest Cream. It cools and soothes irritated skin with proven medications, including an analgesic to stop the itch and a skin protectant to help dry the rash. Because it goes on clear and no rubbing is needed, it can be used anytime throughout the day when cleanup after application isn't practical or anytime additional relief is needed.

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15. What is a severe poison ivy, oak or sumac reaction?

Poisonous plant dermatitis (rash) consisting of any of the following may be a severe reaction:

  • A widespread rash
  • A persistent rash, without improvement within a few weeks
  • Pus oozing from blisters
  • A fever greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius)
  • A rash affecting the eyes, face or genitalia with major swelling

A severe reaction to poisonous plants must be treated by a physician.

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16. How can I remove poison ivy, oak or sumac plants?

NEVER BURN POISON IVY, OAK OR SUMAC PLANTS AS A MEANS OF ERADICATION. The act of burning these poisonous plants causes the urushiol oil contained in the plants to vaporize and cover exposed skin uniformly. This produces a severe poisonous plant reaction. Environmental laws prohibit the burning of brush in most states.

Direct contact with poisonous plants should always be avoided. Pulling out plants by hand can also cause a severe allergic reaction.

Poison ivy, oak or sumac can be destroyed by carefully spraying the plant regularly (every three weeks) with an all purpose herbicide. It can, however, take several years to remove the plant.

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17. What are some recommended additional resources on poison ivy, oak and sumac?

The American Academy of Dermatology – Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac Information
MayoClinic.com – Poison Ivy Information
WebMD’s Allergy Health Center – Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac Overview
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Product Information


1. How do Ivarest products help me to prevent or treat a poison ivy, oak or sumac reaction?

For maximum effectiveness in treating symptoms of a poison ivy, oak or sumac reaction, both Ivarest Poison Ivy Itch Cream and Ivarest Poison Ivy Itch Spray should be used for comprehensive treatment

Ivarest Cream targets the symptoms resulting from a reaction and provides long-term relief. Specifically, it provides itch relief (dual-relief formula with two active ingredients, an antihistamine and an analgesic) and a skin protectant (calamine) that alwo helps dry the rash. Ivarest Spray effectively relieves the paniful itching caused by poisonous plants, and its cooling formual soothes irritated skin.

While Ivarest Cream is the first line of defense in treating a poion ivy reaction, Ivarest Spray can be used as a completmentary treatment to relieve itching. Because no rubbing is needed, the mess-free formula can be used anytime throughout the day when cleanup after application isn't practical, or anytime additional relief is needed.

Learn more...

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2. How does Ivarest Poison Ivy Itch Cream help me to treat a poison ivy, oak or sumac rash?

Ivarest Poison Ivy Itch Cream contains an active antihistamine and an active analgesic for Double Relief, providing two ways to relieve the itch. The antihistamine helps stop the reaction and the analgesic soothes the itch. The formula also features calamine, a well-known skin protectant, to help dry the rash. Ivarest Cream provides the full spectrum of relief from plant itch.

Ivarest Cream contains the most effective active ingredients to relieve itching and discomfort for up to 8 hours. It also has a greaseless formula and is easily removed with water.

Learn more...

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3. How does Ivarest Poison Ivy Itch Spray help me to treat a poison ivy, oak or sumac rash?

Ivarest Poison Ivy Itch Spray cools and soothes irritated skin with proven ingredients, including an analgesic to stop the itch and a skin protectant to help dry the rash, Because it goes on clear and no rubbing is needed, unlike creams it can be used anytime throughout the day when cleanup after application isn't practical or anytime additional relief is needed.

Learn more...

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4. How do the ingredients in Ivarest Poison Ivy Itch Spray and Ivarest Poison Ivy Itch Cream differ from each other?

Ivarest Poison Ivy Itch Cream contains a double-relief formula to relieve pain as well as a skin protectant to dry oozing blisters. This formula consists of an antihistamine (diphenhydramine hydrochloride) and an analgesic (benzyl alcohol), along with a skin protectant that dries blisters and the rash (calamine).

Ivarest Poison Ivy Itch Spray cools and soothes irritated skin with an analgesic (pramoxine hydrochloride) and a skin protectant (zinc acetate). The formula also contains glycerin, which prevents dripping and keeps the medication where it is needed.

Learn more about Ivarest Poison Ivy Itch Cream...
Learn more about Ivarest Poison Ivy Itch Spray...

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5. Are Ivarest products safe for children?

Ivarest products are safe to use on children 2 years of age or older. For children under 2 years of age, consult a doctor.

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6. What if I or my children accidentally swallow Ivarest Poison Ivy Itch Cream or Ivarest Poison Ivy Itch Spray?

If either Ivarest Poison Ivy Itch Cream or Ivarest Poison Ivy Itch Spray is swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away.

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7. How do I use Ivarest Poison Ivy Itch Cream for maximum effectiveness?

If exposure to a poisonous plant is known or suspected, wash the entire area of skin as soon as possible with soap and water or a non-irritating cleanser that removes toxins. Gently pat the area dry. Apply Ivarest Poison Ivy Itch Cream liberally to the rash to form a thick layer you cannot see through. Do not touch the cream until it dries and forms a stiff coating on your skin. Apply to the affected area as needed but not more than 3 to 4 times daily until the reaction clears. Do not use more often than directed. Do not used on large areas of the body or with any other product containing diphenhydramine, even one taken by mouth.

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8. How do I use Ivarest Poison Ivy Itch Spray for maximum effectiveness?

If exposure to a poisonous plant is known or suspected, wash the entire area of skin as soon as possible with soap and water or a non-irritating cleanser that removes toxins. Gently pat the area dry. Apply Ivarest Poison Ivy Itch Spray liberally to the rash. Apply to the affected area as needed but not more than 3 to 4 times daily until the reaction clears. Do not use more often than directed.

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