Poison Sumac Rash

What is a Poison Sumac Rash?

Poison sumac rash refers to an allergic reaction of the skin due sticky oil found in sumac plants. It usually results to red and itchy rash. Poison sumac is commonly spotted in wet places of the Southeast. The leaves of the plant are smooth in general and oval shaped which contains seven to thirteen growing leaves on each stem.

poison ivy rash pictures

More than half of the individuals in the States are sensitized to poison sumac as they develop some symptoms right after coming into contact with the plant. The dead poison sumac plants in the small trees and shrubs may still transfer the toxic oil to the skin therefore it is very important to know what the plants really look like in order to be avoided.

What are the Causes of Poison Sumac Rash?

The rash caused by poison sumac is the skin allergic reaction due to the oil inside the plant which is called uroshiol. This oil is all over the parts of the plant; the berries, roots, leaves, flowers, and stem.

A person can get the rash from:

  • Being in contact with any part of the plants
  • Smoke exposure caused by the burned plants
  • Making contact with pets or any other animals that had connected with the plants
  • Touching things whether it be objects or clothing that had connected with the plants

The rash caused by the plant does not spread to another individual by merely touching the blister fluid. This skin rash can spread to the person’s body that came in contact with the poison sumac plant and develop for a couple of days if the oil was not completely removed from all surfaces.

After an individual accidentally comes in contact with the plant, the immune system might start to act to the oil as if it is a dangerous substance. Possible risk factors of acquiring the sumac rash are; when a person engages to outdoor activities, places where the plants grow and unfortunately come into contact with them.

What are the Symptoms Associated of Poison Sumac Rash?

Symptoms associated with poison sumac rash usually begin with an itching rash that commonly appears within 24-72 hours. It will start as tiny red bumps and then later on become blisters of different sizes. The rash might also ooze fluid or crust.

The poison sumac rash may be seen anywhere on the body that had connected with the oil from the plant. The pattern or shapes may also differ, but mostly it will appear to be in straight lines or red streaks where the plant touched against the skin.

The various areas of the skin may break out at dissimilar times, making it look like the rash is scattering. The oozing of the blister fluid does not make the rash spread, but only by the oil from the plant that lingered on hands and other stuffs.

Some individuals are very much allergic to the paint size so that when the tinniest amount of oil comes into contact with them, it causes severe symptoms that must be checked by a physician right away.

Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • The rash becomes large blisters that leaks a lot of fluid and distributed all over the body
  • Inflammation of the neck, genitals, mouth, or face. It might also cause the eyelids to swell shut.

Differential Diagnosis

Physicians can confirm the diagnosis of poison sumac rash through history taking and how the rash develops on the skin. The diseases that present similar symptoms of poison sumac rash are:

  • Phytophotodermatitis:  Numerous of plants can cause toxic reactions after sun exposure. Reaction happens when the affected area of the skin is exposed to the sunlight.
  • Phytodermatitis: The rash that causes acute contact dermatitis may be identical from sumac rash.
  • Allergic contact dermatitis: The symptoms may be similar but the affected areas are different and there are no linear red streaks of vesicles and blisters appear.

How is Poison Sumac Rash Treated?

If the rash is mild, home remedies can be done. The first thing to do is to wash the affected area with water and soap to remove the oils. Another thing is to try and avoid scratching the rash. Other home remedies include:

  • Use a nonprescription lotion which is calamine
  • Cool compresses with water
  • Aveeno oatmeal bath

Never attempt to treat severe rash at home and do not use medicines like diphenhydramine, neosporin, lanacane, or other medications that may cause other allergic reactions. See the physician immediately in order to get the right diagnosis and treatment if symptoms are acute.


One must remember that skin rash caused by poison sumac; ivy or an oak tree can be similar in appearance as below.

poison sumac rash on abdomen in men

poison sumac rash on arm

poison sumac rash on upper limb

poison sumac rash photo

poison sumac rash picture

poison sumac rash


Poison Oak Rash: Pictures & Remedies at http://www.emedicinehealth.com/allergy_poison_ivy_oak_and_sumac/page4_em.htm



Gladman, Aaron (June 2006). “Toxicodendron Dermatitis: Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac”. Wilderness & Environmental Medicine 17 (2): 120–128.

Epstein, William L. (March 1987). “The Poison Ivy Picker of Pennypack Park: The Continuing Saga of Poison Ivy”. Journal of Investigative Dermatology 88 (3 Suppl): 7s–11s.

Guin, Jere; Gillis, William; Beaman, John (January 1981). “Recognizing the Toxicodendrons (poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac).” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 4 (1): 99–114. doi:10.1016/S0190-9622(81)70014-8. Retrieved 1 May 2015.


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  4. Most rashes caused by poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac are mild and last from five to 12 days. In severe cases, the rash can last for 30 days or longer. When walking in the woods or working in areas where these plants may grow, cover your skin as much as possible by wearing long pants, long-sleeves, shoes, and socks.

  5. Having trouble comparing sumac to possible bed bug bites. Pretty much my left hand is covered finger tips to wrist. Also when I slept everywhere I’ve touched with that hand. 24/72 hours it seems to of stopped spreading. I stayed at a family members home. They got bugs. To say the least… I got spots all over my ankles knees hands 2nd day started on my neck. Looking for a difference as to Identify which it is.. at first it began as little red specs..then the next day started swelling up. Clustered everywhere.. I’m assuming it’s sumac.. prior I was in the woods. Long sleeve & shorts. Feet got nothing stomach back clear. Im not sure still.

  6. I helped clear brush last weekend (December) and held limbs against my waist to pull them to a location. We burned the stump out which did cause smoke in the air around the house. I broke out in a rash with intense itching that night on my waist . Since then i have inflamed red rash on right side from chest to waist. It is very bad itching and swollen with tiny blister bumps in a few places. How can i tell difference in sumac poisoning and shingles

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