Preventing poison ivy

Leaves of three let them be. Teaching kids what poison ivy looks like is the first step of preventing that itchy rash.

Dr. Christie Michael, an allergist at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital, suggests pointing out poisonous plants to your children.

"Not everyone reacts to poison ivy. However, just because a reaction didn't occur in the past doesn't mean it won't in the future," said Michael.

If your child is exposed, Michael recommends bathing the child immediately. Once lesions develop, use topical Benadryl or steroid cream such as Cortisone. Children should avoid scratching. But if itching is severe, an oral antihistamine can be given. For bad reactions, visit your pediatrician who might prescribe a short course of oral steroids.

Here is more information from our friends at American Academy Pediatrics


  • Kids should learn what the leaves look like.
  • Poison ivy, oak, and sumac can all cause rashes
  • The oils in these plants produce the rash
  • Poison ivy has three-leafed green weed with a red stem at the center
  • Grows in vinelike or shrub form in different parts of country
  •  Spreading of rash occurs with small amounts of oils under nails, on clothing, or pet’s hair that comes in contact with that person’s skin.


  • Prevention is the best approach
  • If there is contact, wash all clothes and shoes in soap and water.
  • Wash skin with soap and water for at least ten minutes after the plant has been touched.
  • If reaction is mild, apply calamine lotion three to four times a day to cut back itching.
  • Apply topical 1 percent hydrocortisone cream to decrease inflammation


Call the pediatrician if you notice any of the following

  • Severe eruption not responsive to the previously described home methods
  • Any evidence of infection, such as blisters, redness, or oozing
  • Any new eruption or rash
  • Severe poison ivy on the face
  • Fever