The oil urushiol present in the leaves, roots, and leaves of the poison ivy plant is responsible for the rash that comes after touching it. To get rid of the rash caused by touching poison ivy, you have to also get rid of the oil. To treat the rash, you should do the following:
- Immediately rinse your skin with soap and lukewarm water: This will wash off the oil and stop it from spreading elsewhere on your skin and to other people. You can use a bar of dishwashing soap/laundry soap or alcohol for this purpose.
- Wash your clothing: Thoroughly washing your clothing will also remove the oil on the clothing that might have come in contact with the poison ivy plant. Make sure you use gloves while taking off your clothes; else, the oil will spread on your unaffected skin.
- Wash other things that you suspect: If you suspect that along with your body and clothes, some other things (such as gardening tools, golf clubs, and leashes) might have touched the plant, wash them as well.
What can stop poison ivy from causing an itch?
- Take either a short lukewarm bath or cool showers: You can use an over-the-counter colloidal oatmeal product, dissolve it in the bathtub, and then soak yourself, or you can apply a paste—three tsp of baking soda + one tsp of water on your skin and wash it off under running water/shower.
- Use calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream: Initially, you can apply calamine lotion to reduce the itch. If this does not work, you can use hydrocortisone cream or lotion as per the label instructions.
- Apply a cool compress: Soak a clean, wet cloth in water and squeeze it to remove excess water. Hold this cloth on the itchy skin for a few minutes.
- Consider taking antihistamine pills: Taking an over-the-counter antihistamine pill such as Zyrtec (cetirizine), Allegra (fexofenadine), or Alavert and Claritin (loratadine) can help control the itch considerably.
How to prevent a poison ivy rash?
Because most people are allergic to the urushiol oil, nearly everyone who comes into contact with poison ivy usually develops a rash. The more your exposure to this plant, the more severe is your allergic reaction. You can try preventing the rash by:
- Covering your entire body.
- Applying an ivy blocker (ivy blockers act as a shield against the oil).
- Stopping your favorite outdoor activity if you develop a severe allergic reaction.
- Switching to some other job if working outdoors is always associated with an allergic reaction to the poison ivy plant.
- Staying away from poison ivy even if it has not caused any allergic reaction on your skin earlier.
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American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD). Poison ivy, oak, and sumac. Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/itchy-skin/poison-ivy