poison ivy plant
is the most well known plant that can cause contact dermatitis, and it has a characteristic three leaflets with notched edges. It can grow as a shrub or vine in the grass or on trees and it is found throughout the United States. Poison sumac
is not as common in the United States, and grows in woody or swampy areas east of the Mississippi River as a shrub or tree with 7-13 paired leaflets and a single leaflet at the end. Poison oak
grows a shrub only and is most common in the western United States.
Once the oil from one of these plants comes into contact with the skin, it does not spread and you can not catch poison ivy by touching someone's rash. It is possible for it to spread if the oil remains under your child's nail or on his clothes. The rash usually begins as red bumps and blisters that are very itchy and can last for up to one to three weeks. While the best approach to treatment is educating your children to avoid these plants (see the picture above), if your child does have a reaction there are some steps you can take to make him more comfortable, including: