Poison ivy treatment
Treatment for poison ivy mostly consists of self care methods that can help relieve itching until the reaction goes away within one to three weeks after exposure. However, if needed, specific treatment for poison ivy/poison oak will be determined by your doctor based on:
The rash, blisters, and itch caused by poison ivy normally disappear in several weeks without any treatment. However, any time an allergic reaction to poison ivy develops, wash the skin well with lukewarm water and soap. Also, wash all clothing and everything else that may be contaminated such as shoes, jewellery or outdoor gear.
For mild cases of poison ivy, cool showers and an over-the-counter product that eases itching can be effective. Body heat and sweating can aggravate the itching. Stay cool and apply cool compresses to your skin. Oatmeal baths and baking-soda mixtures also can soothe discomfort associated with a poison ivy rash. Once a rash has broken out, some things that can soothe itching and swelling include:
If the rash caused by poison ivy is widespread or results in a large number of blisters, your doctor may prescribe an oral corticosteroid to treat the rash. Corticosteroids help decrease the immune system attack on urushiol and the resulting inflammation. In severe cases, especially with a rash around the face or genitals, your doctor may prescribe oral or injected steroids.
Prescription medication may be needed as well to reduce swelling and itch. Doctors also recommend manganese sulfate solution or jewel weed to reduce the itching in mild cases of poison ivy. Don't scratch the blisters. Bacteria from under your fingernails can get into the blisters and cause an infection.
The best way to avoid a poison ivy rash is to learn what the plants look like and stay away from them. The saying, "Leaves of three, let them be" may help to remind you what poison ivy looks like. If you come into contact with the plants, wash your skin and clothing right away. These additional suggestions may help prevent a rash outbreak:
Apply a barrier cream - Apply an over-the-counter barrier skin cream containing bentoquatam to absorb urushiol and prevent or lessen the skin's reaction to the oil.
Be aware outdoors - When hiking or camping, stay on cleared pathways. Keep pets from running through wooded areas so that urushiol doesn't accidentally stick to their fur, which you then may touch.
Clean anything that may be contaminated - If you think you’ve come into contact with poison ivy, wash clothing immediately with detergent in a washing machine (if possible). Also wash outdoor gear, garden tools, jewellery, shoes/shoelaces that could have picked up oil. If you have to wait to wash anything, seal it in a plastic bag or container to avoid contamination of other items.
Control or remove poison ivy - Pull poison ivy out of the ground with the use of heavy gloves or a topical herbicide (glyphosate). Poison ivy control can be done at any time of the year, but is best achieved May through July while the plants are flowering. Take care to avoid other plants when using an herbicide and do not spray so heavily the herbicide drips off the leaves. Poison ivy can be very persistent, so you may have to spray the vines two or more times for complete control.
Wash skin with mild soap and water - Gently wash off harmful resin from the skin within five to 10 minutes after exposure to help avert a reaction. After an hour or so, washing may help reduce the severity of a reaction, as the urushiol has usually penetrated the skin. Be sure to wash under your fingernails.
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