Poison Ivy

What Is Poison Ivy?

Here is the rub…literally. Some people get caught off guard by poison ivy because they don’t know how to recognize it. It can be quite unassuming.

It is a plant that has three green leaflets that may have a reddish tinge. It is usually low to the ground in woods and forests. Another tell-tale sign is the white berries, but these are usually only visible at the end of the summer. It is best to look for the leaflets.

Getting Poison Ivy

What most people experience is contact dermatitis. The oils on the leaves lead to severe itching. Red rashes form on the exposed skin that has come in contact with the plant. Once you begin to scratch the itch, the situation can become unbearable - especially for children - until treatment is applied.

Treatment for Poison Ivy

So, how can you get relief for this itchy situation? First, once you notice that you have indeed come in contact with poison ivy, wash your skin right away. Remove as much of the oil from your skin as possible. It won’t stop the rash but can reduce their duration and intensity.

Here are some other ways to find relief. Usually it takes about three weeks for the rash to completely go away.

* Cool compresses – Keep the area cool with a moist, cold washcloth. Continually exchanging compresses will soothe and moisten the skin.

* Take a bath – The worst part of all this is the itching, so soothing it in any way that you can is a priority. Try a cool bath with oatmeal or baking soda added. Use fresh ground oatmeal. Sit and soak for about 30 minutes.

* Paste – Create a cool paste out of baking soda and water or Epson salt and water to apply directly to the rashes on the skin. Cover with a stretchy gauze to hold in place.

* Lotion – Still need more help? How about calamine lotion? You can get it over the counter and it will help dry up oozy and weepy rashes. If you can stand it, try alcohol or a product that contains zinc acetate.

* Let it breathe – When you aren’t pasting or soaking, keep the rash open to the air so that it can heal.

* Oral medication – Antihistamines can be taken to also help stop the itching. Ask your doctor about which ones will provide the most relief.