How to Identify Sumac Rash


Poison sumac is a noxious weed that grows in extremely wet areas such as swamps. It is considered by some botanists to be the most toxic of all the poisonous plants in the United States. Poison sumac is usually a slender tree or a shrub with red veins in the leaves. It bears small white or grey berries unlike the red berries common to non-toxic sumacs. Contact with poison sumac may result in a painful and itchy rash that can spread quickly and be difficult to get rid of. The rash is caused by an allergy, so some people will not experience a rash even if they come into contact with poison sumac. Here are some signs to help you identify if you have developed a poison sumac rash.

Identifying a Poison Sumac Rash

Look for small red bumps on the skin. A small amount of liquid oil will spill out of the bumps when they break open. This oil is commonly called urushiol.

Feel the itching sensation at the sight of the bumps. Sumac rash will begin to itch within a day or two, but do not scratch it. Scratching breaks open the bumps releasing the oil which causes the rash to spread to any area the oil touches.

Notice as the rash progresses the bumps begin to look more like blisters. Once the bumps break open they begin to swell and blister.

Feel a burning sensation following the sense of relief that accompanies scratching the rash. A sumac rash will start to become painful after scratching as the rash progresses.

See it spread to other areas on your body. A sumac rash will inevitably spread to other locations due to scratching and releasing the oil onto the skin. It also spreads due to sweating and showering.

Tips & Warnings

  • Treat a suspected poison sumac rash immediately with over-the-counter antihistamines containing itch reliever to prevent spreading the rash.
  • If the sumac rash spreads to the eyes, contact a physician immediately.

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