Every year there is some poor soul that stumbles into a patch of poison ivy, oak, or sumac and has no idea what they have found. The plant itself looks very pleasing and pretty. It typically has three shiny leaves and they can even have small flowers or berries as well. And while this little plant might look harmless it is one of the meanest things in the wild. Poison ivy, oak, and sumac are found all over the United States. They can appear in different forms depending on where they are geographically but they all have the same end result… pain and itching.
The culprit behind the rash form poison is actually an oil that the plants produce. The oil is called urushoil. This oil is what causes the rash, the blisters, the itch, and the prolonged suffering. This oil has the ability to cling to almost anything. It is able to cling to garden tools, clothing, and even pet fur. So how can you treat this rash at home? Well your options are many but you need to make sure that you are in the best of shape. Many people have serious medical conditions form the poison rash and they can experience difficulty breathing, and even talking. If you have a serious reaction you need to seek medical help fast.
If however you are not having a serious reaction but you need to treat the rash, there are some options. The first thing you need to do is wash the affected area with warm soapy water. Hot water will only exacerbate the issue so make sure the water is lukewarm. The soap has the ability to break down the urushoil of the poison plant and can minimize the effect it has on your skin over the long term.
You also need to make sure that you take the time to thoroughly wash your clothing that could have come into contact with the poison. The oil from the leaves can stick to your clothing and can continue to cause you problems over an extended period of time.
If the rash has already started then you are keenly aware of how itchy and burdensome it can be. In many cases it can even become painful. Treating the rash is similar to cleaning your skin. You are going to want to try short warm showers with lots of soap. If showers are not your thing then you could always try a cold compress. The best way to do this is to soak a washcloth, wring it out so that it does not drip, and then place the cool rag on your rash.
The rash itself will typically blister up and these blisters can open and leak fluid. It is best to wipe this fluid away gently and quickly as to not affect other areas of your body. Speaking of other areas, you might be inclined to scratch your rash. DON’T DO IT! Scratching the rash will only do 2 things. First, it can open your skin and make the wound much worse leading to an infection. This is bad all around. The second thing that can happen from scratching is that you will spread the poison rash to other portions of your body. Remember, the oil from the poison plant will stick to almost anything and can spread very easily.
If the itching is too bad and you really need some relief you can always try using calamine lotion or even a hydrocortisone cream. The lotion should be the first option and the hydrocortisone cream should only be used on rashes that are minimal in size and scope.
What are some other remedies you have tried to soothe an itchy poison ivy rash?