The allergic reactions to poison ivy, oak, and sumac occur when sensitized people come in contact with urushiol oil. This oil is found in the roots, stems, leaves, and fruit of the plant. This oil is released if the plant is damaged or bruised.
If not washed, oil from these plants may stay potent for years on clothing, tools, toys, and other items, especially in dry conditions.
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. Sensitized people are at risk if they:
- Work or play in wooded areas during the spring, summer, and fall
- Touch pets or animals that have come in contact with these plants
- Handle clothes or objects that have come in contact with these plants
- Are exposed to the smoke of these plants if they are burned
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