How to Prevent and Treat Poison Ivy Rash

In the South, late summer/early fall is one of the most beautiful times of year to spend time outdoors! As temps begin to drop, outdoor activities such as camping, stargazing, and hiking become more popular. But, with that extra time outdoors, you also run the risk of coming into contact with things like poison ivy, a highly toxic plant.

Prevention Is Key

Poison ivy is easy to avoid, so if you’re going to be outdoors in an area where poison ivy could be present, be sure you dress in protective clothing. Also, familiarize yourself with what the leaves look like so that you can recognize and avoid the iconic “leaves of three.” Taking these simple precautions could save you from ever getting the rash in the first place.

How Poison Ivy Rash Works

In order to treat poison ivy rash effectively, you have to understand how it works. Poison ivy carries an oil called urushiol. When we brush against the leaves with our ankles as we walk or accidentally touch the plant when we’re working in the yard, the oil comes into contact with our skin and causes an itchy rash. It can last anywhere from 5 days to (in severe cases) 30 days.

How to Treat Poison Ivy Rash

If you think you’ve been in contact with poison ivy or a poison ivy rash starts developing on your skin, thoroughly wash off as much of the oil as possible as soon as possible and launder the clothes you were wearing. Additionally, resist the urge to itch! If you’re having a hard time doing so, some of these poison ivy rash home remedies might help:

  • Pool/ocean time
  • Cold compresses
  • Technu
  • Anti-itch medications such as hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion
  • Oatmeal bath
  • Aloe vera
  • Cucumber slices

Generally, poison ivy causes a mild skin reaction that goes away on its own, but these treatments can shorten the duration of the rash and/or alleviate your symptoms.

A Word of Caution

While some people are sensitive to poison ivy, others are extremely allergic and can have a severe reaction to it. The American Academy of Dermatology cautions individuals with the rash to be on the lookout for the following warning signs:

  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • A rash around one or both eyes, your mouth, or on your genitals
  • Swelling on your face, especially if an eye swells shut
  • Itching that worsens or makes it impossible to sleep
  • Rashes on most of your body
  • A fever

If you experience one or more of these symptoms, it could be an indication that your poison ivy rash needs more than a “home remedy” and you should seek professional medical assistance immediately! If your poison ivy is not severe but you have concerns as to how you should treat it, contact your healthcare provider right away. For more information contact us today!