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Treating Poison Ivy

Poison ivy, found in most parts of the United States, is a very common plant which has two forms. One form grows low to the ground and looks like weeds. These are usually found in groups of several plants and grow up to 6 to 30 inches high. The second form of the poison ivy is a sort of creeper that grows up a tree.

This plant has an oil called urushiol which "bonds" instantaneously to the skin when it comes in contact with it. A red, itchy red rash develops on your skin if you are allergic to urushiol oil in and you get it on your skin.

This oil may come in contact with your skin if you do any of the following:

  • Touching the poison ivy plant
  • Touching shoes or clothes that have oil on it.
  • Touching gardening tools that may have come in contact with the plant.
  • Touching any pets having the oil on their hair.
  • Burning the poison ivy plant can also be dangerous as this oil is carried in the smoke.

Usually, the rash due to poison ivy plant will show only after 1-2 days after coming in contact with urushiol. The affected area will get swollen and reddish. After one day or so later, small blisters will appear, and the rash will be very itchy now. Make sure you restrain yourself from scratching the blisters. This is because bacteria from under your fingernails can get into them and cause an infection. After about a week, the blisters will begin to dry and the rash will fade away. In case if you were unlucky enough to have the rash cover a large area of the body, it may last much longer.

Treating poison Ivy

Make sure to see a doctor if you experience blistering or your eyes swell shut immediately after coming in contact with the ivy plant. This may even lead you to an emergency room as severe poison ivy reactions are considered as one of the few true emergencies by dermatologists. Less severe reactions caused by poison ivy can be treated at home since these home remedies are comparatively cheap. But keep in mind that effective long-term products will cost you more, but the right one can be well worth the expense and it will cost less than a trip to the doctor's office.

As a first step, according to the FDA, wash off as much oil as you can. You can wet a cotton cloth with alcohol and rub the affected area at the earliest. After this, wash the area with water and soap. Make sure to use a real soap. Dish soaps or a pinch of shampoo is also going to work fine. Another which will be useful in washing away the poison is mineral oil. One commercial product Tecnu can also work well. Now shower with soap and warm water so that you can get rid of as much oil as possible.

Now, it's time to treat the itch. Even though home remedies can provide relief to the itch associated with poison ivy rash, their effectiveness may vary in each individual.

Some home remedies you can try right away are:

  • An easily available remedy will be hot tap water. It can be effective for short periods.Do not use water heated on the microwave or stove as it can be too hot and burn you. All you have to do is just hold the itchy area under the tap for a few seconds.
  • White vinegar is also found to soothe the itch for a while. Apply some with a cotton ball to the affected area.
  • Another interesting remedy is applying oatmeal on the rash. For this, make it somewhat thicker than what you would eat.
  • Baking soda is also found to help. Mix some baking soda with water and apply the paste on the itchy area or add 1/2 cup to your bath and soak. This paste can be used for insect bites too.
  • Another plant called Jewel Weed works very well to stop the itching due to poison ivy. Its stems ooze out a juice which you can apply to the rash to reduce the itching. Also you can use soaps with Jewel Weed extracts.
  • As it is an allergic reaction over-the-counter antihistamines can also help. For example, benadryl is one you can try. Many of these over-the-counter antihistamines often come as creams making it easier for you to apply them right to the itch.



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