When this oil touches your skin, it often causes an itchy, blistering rash. Most people can safely treat the rash at home. Immediately rinse your skin with lukewarm, soapy water. If you can rinse your skin immediately after touching poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac, you may be able to rinse off some of the oil.
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If not washed off, the oil can spread from person to person and to other areas of your body. Wash your clothing. Thoroughly wash all of the clothes you were wearing when you came into contact with the poisonous plant. The oil can stick to clothing, and if it touches your skin, it can cause another rash.
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To avoid getting oil from the plant on your skin, wear gloves while touching your clothes, even when taking off your clothes. Wash everything that may have the oil on its surface. To avoid getting any oil from the plant on your skin, wear gloves while touching or washing anything that may have oil on it.
This includes your pet. If you need to wash your pet, wear gloves. Leave blisters alone. If blisters open, do not remove the overlying skin, as the skin can protect the raw wound underneath and prevent infection. Take short, lukewarm baths. To ease the itch, take short, lukewarm baths in a colloidal oatmeal preparation, which you can buy at your local drugstore.
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An allergic reaction to the oil in these plants produces the rash. The rash occurs from several hours to three days after contact with the plant and begins in the form of blisters, accompanied by severe itching.
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Contrary to popular belief, it is not the fluid in the blisters that causes the rash to spread. Poison ivy grows as a three- leafed green weed with a red stem at the center. It grows in vinelike form in all parts of the country except the Southwest.
The Truth About Poison Ivy
Poison sumac is a shrub, not a vine, and has seven to thirteen leaves arranged in pairs along a central stem. Not nearly as abundant as poison ivy, it grows primarily in the swampy areas of the Mississippi River region. Poison oak grows as a shrub, and it is seen primarily on the West Coast. All three plants produce similar skin reactions. These skin reactions are forms of contact dermatitis. Treating reactions to poison ivy—the most frequent of these forms of contact dermatitis—is a straightforward matter.
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You may be trying to access this site from a secured browser on the server. Please enable scripts and reload this page. Turn on more accessible mode. Turn off more accessible mode. Skip Ribbon Commands. Skip to main content. Turn off Animations. For itchiness, apply baking soda or colloidal oatmeal to your skin. And for an oozing rash, give aluminum acetate a try.
You can also get relief from a steroid cream if you use it during the first few days after you get a rash. Your doctor may need to prescribe a stronger version. Some folks take antihistamines , but they won't make your itchiness go away. Antihistamines that make you feel sleepy, though, such as diphenhydramine Benadryl , can help you take your mind off the itchy feeling when you go to bed.
Your skin will feel better if you soak in a bathtub with cool water and an oatmeal-based bath product. Or place a cool, wet compress on the rash for 15 to 30 minutes at a time, a few times a day. There are a few things to avoid. As tough as it is to resist, don't scratch the blisters. Bacteria on your hands can get into the blisters and lead to an infection.