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Poison Ivy Dermatitis (Infant/Toddler)

Your infant or toddler has poison ivy dermatitis. This is a skin rash caused by the oil found in the poison ivy plant. Symptoms can start within a few hours to a few days after contact with the plant. They include an itchy rash, redness, and swelling of the skin. Small blisters can form, which can then break and leak fluid. This fluid is not contagious to others—only the plant oil can cause rash. The rash usually starts to go away after 1 to 2 weeks, but it may take 4 to 6 weeks to fully clear.

Home Care

Medications: The doctor can prescribe medications to help relieve itching and swelling. These can include steroid cream, antihistamines, and calamine lotion. For more severe cases, oral medications may be prescribed. Follow the doctor’s instructions for giving medications to your child.  

General Care:

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after caring for your child.

  • The rash can spread if traces of the plant oil remain on your child’s skin. Gently wash the affected areas of the skin with soap and warm water. If needed, over-the-counter products (Zanfel and Tecnu) can be used to help remove the plant oil from the skin shortly after exposure.

  • Plant oil that remains on clothing, shoes, or other items can cause a rash even weeks later. Wash any clothing, shoes, or other items that touched the plant.

  • Try to prevent your child from scratching the rash. Scratching can lead to infection. In addition, it can cause the rash to spread if any plant oil remains under the fingernails. To help prevent problems, gently scrub under the fingernails with warm, soapy water and a nail brush. Keep the child’s fingernails trimmed short. To keep an infant from scratching, cover the child’s hands with mittens or socks.

  • Bathe your child in cool water. Adding oatmeal powder (such as Aveeno) or aluminum acetate powder (such as Domeboro) to the water may help soothe itchy skin. These are available over the counter. Applying wet compresses to the rash can help relieve itching as well.

  • Watch for signs of infection (see below).

Follow Up

as advised by the doctor or our staff.

Get Prompt Medical Attention

if any of the following occurs:

  • Fever greater than 100.4°F (38°C)

  • Rash appears to worsen or does not respond to treatment after 1 week

  • Rash spreads to the face (especially around the eyes), or groin area causing swelling

  • Signs of infection, including pain, increasing redness or swelling, or cloudy fluid drainage or oozing from the blisters


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