San Diego, California - Poison ivy grows as vines or low shrubs in most climates. Each leaf on a poison ivy plant has three smaller leaflets. Contact with any part of the poison ivy plant can cause red, swollen skin; blisters; and severe itching, sometimes within hours after exposure.

A poison ivy rash usually resolves on its own within a few weeks. In the meantime, control itching with an over-the-counter anti-itch cream, such as calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream. An oatmeal bath and cool compress also might be helpful. Consult your doctor if you have a severe poison ivy rash or if the rash involves your eyes, face or genital area. Poison oak and poison sumac cause a similar rash.