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Poison Ivy, Oak, or Sumac: Barrier Lotions and Creams

Topic Overview

If you know you will be working around poison ivy, oak, or sumac, you may think about using a barrier cream or lotion. This will help prevent the plant oil (urushiol) from contacting your skin and causing a rash (allergic contact dermatitis).

  • Less than 1 hour before contact with the plant, apply the product in a thick, complete layer.
  • Wash the product off thoroughly within 4 hours (preferably as soon as possible) after contact with the plants. The product only delays the penetration of the urushiol.
  • For continued protection, reapply the product every 4 hours.

Products containing bentoquatam, such as IvyBlock, may help prevent the rash. These products should not be used on children younger than age 6 or by anyone who already has a rash from the poison ivy, oak, or sumac plants. You can get these products without a prescription.

Barrier creams and lotions do not completely protect against getting a poison ivy rash.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Last Revised August 19, 2013

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