Poison ivy rashes can happen unexpectedly if you don’t know what plant you should have been avoiding. It’s important to understand the steps to properly treat poison ivy.
If you have a mild rash that only impacts a small area of skin, poison ivy treatments usually can be treated at home with the rash going away on its own within 2 to 3 weeks.
Step 1: Immediately rinse your skin with soapy water.
If you are able to rinse your skin immediately after contact, you may be able to rinse off some of the oil from the plant that causes the reaction. If not washed off, it can spread to other individuals or other areas of your body. Additionally, wash everything that the oil may have touched – this includes clothes, a dog’s leash, your shoes, etc.
Step 2: Do not scratch and leave any blisters or rash alone
It is best to avoid touching or scratching any infected areas to prevent any further infections.
Step 3: Relieve the itch
To ease the itch, take a short, lukewarm bath with colloidal oatmeal – which can be purchased at a local store. After getting out of the bath, apply a calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream to alleviate the itch.
Step 4: Apply a cool compress and take an antihistamine (Optional)
A cool compress can be made by wetting down a clean washcloth with cold water. Applying it to the effective area will help relieve the itchiness. Consider also taking an antihistamine pill to reduce itching.
If your rash is not improving after a week, is widespread or if you think the rash is infected, see your local board-certified dermatologist. Your dermatologist will be able to treat your rash and any infection that may have occurred through prescription topicals and/or oral medications.
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