Most cases of the rash can be self-treated using calamine* lotion or over-the-counter ointments and creams containing zinc oxide. Avoid using antihistamine and anesthetic (e.g., benzocaine) creams. These may be effective, but they may also cause an allergic reaction.
Applying cold compresses for 15 to 30 minutes at a time several times a day will help with the itching and blistering. A baking soda paste (3 teaspoons of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of water) can be applied to the rash, and colloidal oatmeal baths can also provide relief. An aluminum acetate solution can be applied as a damp compress for period of less than 20 minutes. Hydrocortisone cream or ointment can also be applied. Corticosteroids or antihistamines taken by mouth may also relieve the symptoms, but both medications can have unwanted side effects and should be used only on the advice of a health professional.
Anyone with complications from a severe case, or with a rash that is not improving with self-treatment, needs to see a doctor. If the case is so severe that a more general illness (fever, nausea, dehydration) develops, a doctor may recommend injections of a corticosteroid medication.
The best way to deal with poison ivy and its relatives is to learn to recognize the plants, and then stay out of reach. Wear protective clothing if you are going to be in or near areas with poison ivy. If you suspect you've been in contact with a poison ivy plant, wash the affected and surrounding areas immediately and thoroughly with soap and water. Change your clothes right away. Carefully clean the skin, clothes, shoes, and tools or anything that might have picked up the plant's toxic resin.
If you are going into poison ivy country, you can try one of the "barrier" lotions available from outdoor suppliers. These coat the skin in order to stop the urushiol poison from causing a reaction, as the toxin can remain on clothing for a while.
Finally, the old folk tale about eating poison ivy leaves to get immunity is just a myth. Never eat the leaves or berries of wild plants. Many of them can cause dangerous reactions in humans.
*All medications have both common (generic) and brand names. The brand name is what a specific manufacturer calls the product (e.g., Tylenol®). The common name is the medical name for the medication (e.g., acetaminophen). A medication may have many brand names, but only one common name. This article lists medications by their common names. For information on a given medication, check our Drug Information database. For more information on brand names, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2017. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/condition/getcondition/Poison-Ivy