Yesterday my hair stylist mentioned that a co-worker had been suffering from a horrible poison ivy rash. I, of course, had a few tips at the ready and I shared them, even though it made me feel a little Cliff Clavin-ish before it was over. Or maybe it was just my imagination that her eyes glazed over.
Anyway, here are the tips I have for treating poison ivy and its cousins, poison sumac and poison oak:
IF YOU THINK YOU’VE BEEN EXPOSED
- Wash the exposed area immediately with cold water. Some people swear by the addition of Dawn dishwashing detergent to this wash.
- Carefully remove all clothing. Oils from the plant remain on the material and touching it creates a new exposure.
- Once undressed, shower in warm water.
- Wash your clothing in hot water. If you are especially sensitive, run it through two cycles.
- Wash in hot water any gardening tools, sports equipment, or other “hard goods” you were using when you were exposed. Those plant oils can hang around on everything!
Note for pet owners: Urushiol, the toxic oil found on poison ivy, et al., can adhere to your pet’s fur and transfer to your skin. The woman at the hair stylist’s shop had a secondary rash on her chest and arms that corresponded exactly to her body position when she cradles her cat. If you think your pet might be “a carrier”, wash its fur in warm, soapy water.
TIPS FOR TREATING POISON IVY RASH
(none of which should be considered medical advice from a qualified professional)
Some of the commonly known treatments for relieving the itch:
- calamine lotion
- oral antihistamines
- warm water & baking soda bath
- cool water & colloidal oatmeal bath
- cool showers
- cool cloth compresses applied to the area
Other treatments I’ve heard about over the years (again, NOT medical advice):
- mint toothpaste (not gel, but paste) like Colgate applied to rash
- stick deodorant applied 3-4 times per day to the affected area
- cool water & sea salt bath (or swimming in the ocean)
- Vick’s VapoRub – what alternate remedy list would be complete without it?
You may have already known these, or maybe you have your own remedies to share. Feel free to sing out! If you want to explore a thousand or so home remedies, MyHomeRemedies has a topic devoted to user experience in treating poison ivy rash. Some are interesting and potentially helpful, some are funny, and others are downright scacy.
Of course, the best way to deal with poison ivy is to avoid it in the first place. For that, you need to know the enemy. Here’s a start:
For more information, check out How to Identify Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Poison Sumac.
You can also check Poison-Ivy.org for more information, including a “rash hall of fame”. (I’ve never felt more sympathy for a group of people in my life!)
Wishing you sunny, but rash-free days ahead!