First-Aid 101: Poison Ivy Rash

First-Aid 101: Poison Ivy Rash

Poison ivy is a plant found in nature that can trigger an irritating allergic reaction when a person handles it. The oily sap contained within is known as urushiol.

This sap is responsible for the itchy skin and rash associated with the handling of the plant. Urushiol is so potent that it can cause an allergic reaction in someone who simply touches other items or pets that have come into contact with the sap. Poison ivy grows as a shrub and can be found in most parts of the United States. Because of poison ivy’s potency and prolific growth, it is imperative to be prepared to treat an allergic reaction at all times. Learn how to treat it naturally or with modern medicines, as well as when to visit a doctor, below.

First-Aid Kit Must-Haves for Poison Ivy Rash

Poison ivy rash is not something to address with a casual mindset or approach. For peace of mind and the best chance of avoiding a rash or dealing with the symptoms, you are going to want to have a few items in your first-aid kit. Every poison ivy first-aid kit should have the following items:

  • Rubbing Alcohol – If used in good time, rubbing alcohol can dissolve poison ivy oil and stop it from spreading.
  • Calamine lotion – One of the most trusted lotions for a variety of itch-causing ailments, calamine is a must-have item to keep when a case of poison ivy rash is present.
  • Hydrocortisone creams – For some people, hydrocortisone creams, such as Ivy Shield or Benadryl, can reduce poison ivy itch.
  • Antihistamine tablets – These tables can help to numb you from the itchiness of poison ivy rash while you sleep.
  • Cool Compress – A cool compress or ice pack can relieve the burning sensation and itching associated with poison ivy for a short period of time.

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You can find any of the above items at your local pharmacy, general store or even some gas stations. Make sure your first-aid kit also has gauze, in case you want to cover the affected areas with creams or lotion and then cover that with gauze.

Natural Supplements That Can Help Poison Ivy Rash

The first-aid items above will help to alleviate or even cure the effects of poison ivy rash. But there are a variety of excellent natural supplements which soothe the pain brought on by poison ivy sap. The following natural supplements can battle the effects of poison ivy and can already be found in your home:

  • Oatmeal baths – One of the most tried and true natural poison ivy remedy is an oatmeal bath. Putting a cup of ground oatmeal into a cheesecloth and soaking along with it in warm bath water can reduce the itchiness. Afterward, you can place the oatmeal-filled cheesecloth directly on your skin for more relief.
  • Baking soda – Speed up your recovery after touching poison ivy by mixing three teaspoons of baking soda with one teaspoon of water. Apply the paste to the infected areas on the skin. Let it dry and flake off over time. You can even spread gauze pads with paste or take a bath in a baking soda solution.
  • Aloe Vera – Often used to alleviate the pain of sunburn, aloe gel can be applied to the affected area to help reduce the irritation felt on the skin. If you have the plant growing at home, it is a quick and convenient natural supplement that can be used to treat poison ivy rash.
  • Lemon juice – Lemon juice can be used as a natural astringent. If used shortly after coming into contact with poison ivy, lemon juice can help to eliminate the oil. Careful, though. It might sting a bit!

How to Take Care of Poison Ivy Rash

If you come into physical contact with poison ivy, there is no telling when your body will begin to react. As such, you need to do your best to keep calm and quickly address the issue. That is, if you know you came into contact with it. Eventually, you will find out. If you come into contact with poison ivy, take the following steps:

  1. Remove all clothing.
  2. Wash the affected areas with cool or warm water and soap, if possible.
  3. Wash all clothing, pets and items that may have come into contact with the rash.
  4. Avoid scratching the affected areas, as bacteria under the nails can cause infection.
  5. Use either rubbing alcohol or lemon juice to remove the remaining oil.
  6. If the rash persists, use calamine lotion, oatmeal baths or the baking soda paste as needed to remove and alleviate the rash and itch.
  7. If the oils cause the eyes to swell shut or come into contact with the genitals or mouth, go to the doctor immediately.

When to Go to the Hospital for Poison Ivy Rash

While poison ivy rash can be treated at home, sometimes it can become so severe that a person needs to go to the hospital for professional medical attention. Even a minor amount of the oil can irritate a person. Take a trip to the hospital if:

  • Your fever goes above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • The rash has not improved in one or two weeks’ time.
  • You have inhaled smoke from the burning plant and cannot breathe normally.
  • Your eyes, mouth or genitals have come into contact with the oil.
  • The blisters caused by the rash begin to ooze pus.

Depending on the severity of the reaction you are feeling and the amount of urushiol oil on the skin, you may want to take an ambulance. Severe cases and rash outbreaks may warrant the ride, while a person with a less severe case may be treated at home or brought to the hospital by a family member or friend. Just be sure the driver does not touch the skin of the affected person, as the sap may affect the driver as well. Visiting a doctor can help to eliminate the possibility of the rash being caused by some other allergic reaction. People can treat the symptoms themselves, but follow-up with a doctor can provide peace of mind and rule out the possibility of other causes.

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