Diagnosing & Treating Poison Ivy

Contact dermatitis occurs when the skin comes in direct contact with an irritant, such as a chemical, food, or detergent. The condition is characterized by a red, itchy rash and is typically triggered by everyday substances like soaps, fragrances, cosmetics, certain kinds of jewelry and plants. Some of the most common irritants are poison oak and poison ivy, which are found across the United States. 

While contact dermatitis can be both alarming and uncomfortable, our board-certified doctors can see you quickly and treat you completely online. If you have a red, itchy rash and have been exposed to potential irritants, you may be experiencing contact dermatitis. If you suspect you are suffering from this condition, there’s no need to wait for hours at your local urgent care center. You can be treated for contact dermatitis right now and in the comfort of your own home. Here at WebDoctors, we know just how difficult it can be to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician on short notice or for minor medical issues. For that reason, we have made this process quick, easy, and accessible. Whether you are seeking a prescription online or you just want a doctor to discuss your treatment options with you, we can help.


With more than three million U.S. cases a year, contact dermatitis is an extremely common condition. Fortunately for us, contact dermatitis is relatively easy to treat and can typically be resolved within a few days or weeks. While contact dermatitis often resolves itself, if a rash is present around the eyes or mouth or the rash covers a large portion of the body, help from a medical professional is advised. Likewise, if the condition persists after the irritant has been identified and removed, a professional opinion is also recommended. While home remedies and over-the-counter medicines can be effective in treating contact dermatitis, in extreme cases, our doctors can write a prescription online for a more potent steroid cream. This, however, is usually reserved for especially unpleasant cases, such as those due to poison ivy and poison oak plants. Generally, a treatment regimen comprised of over-the-counter creams, oils, antihistamines, and pain-relievers is determined during your online visit. 

As mentioned before, it’s common for people to experience sensitivity to the oily sap found in the fruit, leaves, stem, and root of both poison ivy and poison oak plants. If your skin is exposed to this sap, you will likely get a blistering rash at the point of contact. Your skin may become red and itchy, which can lead to swelling, burning, blisters, tenderness, bumps, dry or cracked skin, and even bruising. The reaction can be anywhere from mild to severe, depending on the amount of exposure and your level of sensitivity. 

How Severe is the Rash?

The severity of the rash depends on several factors, including the length of time for which you were exposed to the irritant, how much of your skin the irritant touched and genetic factors that predetermine your tolerance to the irritant. Some people are more prone to rashes than others because of their heredity.

In addition, people with certain occupations are at a higher risk for this condition. Occupational skin diseases are the second most common type of occupational illness, and of those occupational skin diseases, contact dermatitis is one of the most common. Health care workers, cosmetologists, food handlers, and landscapers are all at increased risk of coming in contact with irritants and thus suffering from contact dermatitis. While people working in those fields are more likely to experience contact dermatitis, anyone who works with potential irritants is susceptible to this condition.

If you suspect you have contact dermatitis or have been exposed to poison ivy or poison oak, keep in mind it usually takes anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours for the part of your skin that has come in contact with the irritant to develop symptoms. If you notice a red, itchy rash and may have come in contact with a potential allergen or irritant, you may be experiencing contact dermatitis. Without proper contact dermatitis, poison ivy or poison oak treatment, the rash can actually last up to four weeks and could potentially result in infection. For that reason, it’s important to seek medical advice if the rash appears to worsen or spread.


One of the tell-tale signs of contact dermatitis is an itchy, inflamed rash accompanied by several unpleasant symptoms. If you notice an itchy rash after working with food or cosmetics, hiking or biking on non-street surfaces, you may be suffering from contact dermatitis. The most common contact dermatitis and poison ivy/oak symptoms include the following:

  • Hives
  • Severe blistering
  • Skin redness
  • Burning sensation
  • Dry, scaly or flaky skin
  • Darkened or leathery skin
  • A stiff or tight feeling
  • Extreme itching
  • Swelling, such as in the face, eyes or groin
  • Ulcerations
  • Cracking skin
  • Crusty, open sores
  • Sun sensitivity

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, don’t hesitate to seek treatment online. Our physicians are well equipped to help you find both contact dermatitis and poison ivy/oak treatment online. At WebDoctors, we work fast to help you alleviate discomfort and prevent new symptoms from arising.


While several kinds of irritants can cause contact dermatitis, the underlying cause generally falls in one of the following two categories. The first category is allergic contact dermatitis. Allergic contact dermatitis occurs when the immune system responds to contact with a particular substance or allergen. Some common allergens are certain foods, nickel, latex, and certain ingredients in makeup. Irritant contact dermatitis occurs when the skin comes in direct contact with an irritating substance like poison oak or ivy. In both instances, an itchy rash is likely to materialize, and any of the above symptoms could also occur. 

Despite the fact it can be caused by different things, contact dermatitis is almost always treated with antihistamines, pain-relievers, or steroid creams in extreme cases. No matter the cause, our board-certified doctors can provide you with poison oak treatment online and help you feel better in no time. 

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