Poison ivy rash is a condition that occurs when one comes into contact with urushiol. Urushiol is an oil found in a plant known as poison ivy. Although there are people who do not react to urushiol and may never develop its symptoms there is still about eighty-five percent of Americans who easily react whenever they come in contact with it. This reaction usually leads to dermatitis, a condition characterized by itching sensation and rash. Let’s take a look at the best treatment for poison ivy rash at home. These home remedies have proven to be effective over time in relieving the symptoms.
Poison ivy can be recognized and avoided. Its leaf usually has three leaflets and the edges are either notched or smooth. It is mostly found in the western and northern parts of the United States and in Canada as a shrub. It is a vine in the Midwest, South, and East. The leaves of poison ivy also change color as the different seasons come. During springtime, it is red with yellow or greenish looking flowers. In summer it turns green, during fall it becomes red, yellow, or orange with off-whitish berries. During the winter the leaves fall away leaving hairy vine behind.
Best Treatment For Poison Ivy
The rash from poison ivy may eventually go away but the itching that comes along with it can be hard to bear. This itching might even disrupt your sleep. The following home remedies may ease these symptoms.
1. Rubbing alcohol
Alcohol helps to take away the oil from your skin and this would help in minimizing discomfort. It is best for people to do this immediately they have contact with the plant especially within the initial ten minutes.
If you are going hiking or camping it is good to have alcohol wipes with you all the time. The food administration advises that surfaces can retain urushiol oil for a long time even years unless it is wiped with water or rubbing alcohol.
2. Bathe or shower
Wash under your fingernails and skin thoroughly with lukewarm water and plain soap. Water helps in the removal of plant oils. Rubbing alcohol can be replaced with water although using alcohol first is better and then take a bath or shower.
It is generally believed that taking a shower with the first sixty minutes after having come in contact with the oil may ad in limiting its severity and spread of the rash. Everything that had contact with the ivy plant should be washed and its best for people to put on rubber gloves as they do this.
3. Cold compress
Wet and cool compresses help in reducing inflammation and itching. In order to make these compresses, you have to dip a clean cloth into cold water. Squeeze out excess water and rub it on your skin for fifteen to thirty minutes.
Repeat this process several times that same day. Some people are better relieved by smiling compress into a liquid (astringent) this will further reduce itching and swelling. Examples of this liquid include apple vinegar cider, black tea, and aluminum acetate.
4. Avoid skin scratching
It might be very tempting but try all you can to avoid scratching your skin as this can result in an infection. It might also make the blisters burst and they can become infected. Any blister that comes open should not be touched as the covering skin reduces infection risk and provides protection.
Unscrubbed fingernails can also harbor urushiol traces that are easily transferred to your skin by scratching. Scratching may worsen the itching and eventually become a severe rash of poison ivy.
5. Topical creams and lotions
There are varieties of lotions that help to relieve rash symptoms and you can purchase them with no prescriptions. Calamine lotion and hydrocortisone creams are two such products. They help to reduce swelling and itching.
Products with zinc acetate, zinc oxide, and zinc carbonate contents can be used in treating the weeping and oozing effect of this oil. These products should be used by the labeled instructions. The gel obtained from the plant aloe vera provides a soothing topical remedy for poison ivy.
6. Oral antihistamines
Orally applied antihistamines help in lessening the severity of allergic reactions. It causes a reduction in rash and itching. Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is an example of such antihistamine. It can also help to improve the quality of people’s sleep through the symptoms. Do not apply antihistamine directly on the rash as it can worsen the itching.
When Should You See A Doctor
Most times the symptoms of poison ivy go away without the need for medical intervention. But if you begin to notice any of the following symptoms then it’s very important that you stop all forms of home remedies and consult a doctor.
- If the rash is near your mouth, genitals or eyes
- If it covers a large part of your body (more than twenty-five percent of your skin)
- If there are no improvements after seven to ten days.
- If it contains soft yellowish scabs or pus.
Emergency medical attention is needed in severe reaction signs like;
- Difficulty in breathing
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Inner mouth rashes
- Eyes swelling
- Wear protective clothing when outdoors especially if poison ivy is likely to be there.
- Use thick or PVC gloves, thin gloves may permit oil penetration to your skin.
- Put on barrier substances like products containing bentoquatam. They will help to decrease symptoms should you come into contact with this plant. Make sure to wash away this substance within minutes post-exposure.
- Take poison ivy away from your garden. It is best to use professional help as this can be a very challenging task since every part of it contains urushiol oil. Even dead ivy plants can cause a reaction.
Rather than looking for the best treatment for poison ivy, it is better to prevent its occurrence by following these prevention methods.