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Poison Ivy Remedy: Stop the Itch

Aug 17, 2007
Poison Ivy affects thousands of people each year in the United States. It accounts for around 10% of the loss of work time in the job world. Poison ivy is caused from the sap of the Poison Oak, Poison Ivy ,or Poison Sumac plants. These plants grow heartily throughout the United States. Urushiol, a skin irritant, is contained in the sap. This is what causes itching and produces dermatitis. Reactions can range from moderate itching to an emergency situation where swelling occurs.

If you are exposed to poison ivy, you should wash all your clothes, bedding, tools, and pets which may have also come into contact with the plant. If you do not do this, you can become re-infected after you are eventually cured. Next, if the itching is intolerable, run the hottest water bearable over the irritated skin. Although this will make it get worse before it gets better, it needs to be done. Once the blistering occurs, it is wise to cover it with sterile gauze to guard against infection. An over-the-counter antihistamine, such as Benadryl, will also help with the itching.

If the itch is still bothersome after these steps, there are some home remedies that can also be tried. For example, bathing in room temperature water with cup baking soda added is one method you can use. This can be likened to an oatmeal bath, except it is cheaper and you're using items you may already have on hand. Baking soda is believed to pull the urushiol out of the skin. A baking soda paste can also be made and rubbed on the rash. When it hardens, simply wash it off. Vinegar combined with baking soda results in a paste mixture. Scrub this paste on the rash with a washcloth and rub hard.

Some other remedies consist of kitchen items. Rubbing banana skins on the rash has been known to offer long relief. Warm vinegar applied to the blisters three to four times a day, followed by calamine lotion at night is another treatment. Cooked oatmeal applied to the rash until it is hardened, and buttermilk dabbed on the affected area has also helped some. Another remedy is Desitin diaper rash ointment.

Since poison ivy keeps its poison in an oil base, showering with a detergent that attacks oil (such as Dawn or Joy) the oil will be released from your skin. This usually has the best results when done within the first twenty minutes of infection.

Other remedies can range from Windex treatments to Pine Sol and Clorox treatments. A word of caution to the sensitive skin sufferer: Be careful with the treatments you use, since you can very well exacerbate the situation. And if you're not comfortable using home treatments, you can always call your doctor and get a prescription medication to help. You can also stop by the pharmacy and ask for an over-the-counter treatment option.

Most Poison Ivy rashes occur within 24 to 48 hours after contact with the plant. In 15% of all poison ivy cases, people experience an allergic reaction and break out in a rash and swelling in 4 to 12 hours. In cases like this, do not try home treatment. Go to a hospital as soon as possible to get the swelling reduced. This is usually done with a shot of corticosteriods.
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