Medically reviewed by Cynthia Cobb, DNP, APRN, WHNP-BC, FAANP — written by Rebecca Morris — updated on march 7, 2019

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It start innocently enough. Girlfriend chop under a scraggly shrub when trimming your lawn. Then, your arms and also legs start tingling and also turn red. Prior to you recognize it, yes an itchy rash. Much too late you realize that shrub was in reality poison ivy.

Finding poison ivy is straightforward in the joined States, where it grow virtually anywhere except for Alaska, Hawaii, and also some desert locations of the Southwest. It likewise grows in parts of Canada, Mexico, and Asia.

It’s straightforward to identify by its swarm of 3 pointed leaves. In the spring, the leaves have the right to have a red tint. They turn environment-friendly in summer and also various shades of red, yellow, or orange in the fall.

exactly how it spreads

Poison ivy produces an oil dubbed urushiol that causes a decision in around 85 percent of civilization who come in call with it, note the American Academy that Dermatology.

The rashes isn’t transmittable to others. This is because it’s a skin reaction come the oil. However, the oil itself deserve to spread come others.

Urushiol is tenacious. It’ll stick to almost anything: your clothes and shoes, camping and gardening equipment, even your pets’ or horses’ coats.

It deserve to transfer to and from your hands to your cell phone call or any type of object friend touch and also spread to others. And it’s in basically every component of the plant: leaves, stems, also the roots. Brushing versus a winter-bared vine can still reason the rash.

Read on for some ways to prevent obtaining a poison ivy rash.

1. Dress for success

If you understand you’re heading into a poison ivy stronghold, prepare by spanning as lot of her skin as possible. Good frontline defenses include:

long-sleeved shirtspants, which have the right to be tucked right into socks if neededhatsheavy-duty rubber glovessocksclosed-toe shoes
2. Lather, rinse, repeat

Rinsing her skin through lukewarm, soapy water or rubbing alcohol within around an hour of poignant poison ivy deserve to remove the urushiol and aid you prevent a decision — or at least make it less severe.

You’ll likewise need to to wash anything else that’s come into call with the plant. Urushiol deserve to remain potent because that years. Skip the cleanup could lead to one more rash later.

Some people swear the dishwashing liquid can help wash the oil from your skin. Various other specialty washes include products by brands such as Burt’s Bees, Ivarest, and Tecnu.

3. Block the oil

If a precautionary measure is what she after, over-the-counter (OTC) cream can hold-up urushiol indigenous penetrating the skin. You can gain IvyX and other barrier creams indigenous your neighborhood drugstore or online.

The cream needs to be thickly applied all over her skin much less than an hour before you suppose to it is in exposed come a toxicity ivy plant. If you’re exposed, you need to wash all the cream off within 4 hours the the exposure to save your skin from absorbing the urushiol.

4. Wash, rinse, soak

If friend do construct a poison ivy rash, expect it to take it one to 3 weeks to clean up. Wash well through soap and also lukewarm water come get any type of residual oil off the skin as shortly as you can.

Once the decision develops, water have the right to be soothing and help ease itching and also burning. Soaking in cool-water baths include an oatmeal-based product such as one by Aveeno should carry out relief, follow to the mei Clinic.

Also, placing a cool, wet compress ~ above the rash for 15 to 30 minutes several times a day should help.

5. Cortisone and also calamine

OTC cortisone creams and calamine lotion can aid ease some of the itchiness that a toxicity ivy rash. Follow the label directions once applying. Make certain to wash and also dry the area prior to reapplying.

Other assets that may assist with itching include:

a 3-to-1 ratio of baking soda to water paste used to the skin cucumber slices placed on the rash

You can likewise mash increase cucumber right into a paste and also apply to the rash come soothe her skin.

6. Try oral antihistamines

OTC antihistamines such as loratadine (Claritin) and also diphenhydramine (Benadryl) can aid ease her itching and also inflammation, too. Benadryl has the added benefit of make some human being sleepy. This could help boost her comfort in ~ bedtime.

There are plenty of other OTC antihistamines. Speak to her pharmacist because that advice top top choices.

Don’t apply an antihistamine cream to your rash, though. It have the right to actually make the itching worse.

Applying rubbing alcohol to a rash can aid dry the up and also prevent infection. Part other residence remedies that act together astringents and also can dried up a poison ivy decision include:

witch hazelapple cider vinegara paste of baking soda and water
7. Call the professionals

If your rash is widespread, ~ above your face or genitals, or has caused several blisters, speak to your doctor. They’ll have the ability to prescribe a steroid, such as prednisone, to help ease the itching and inflammation.

Depending on her condition and also your doctor’s preference, you might be offered steroid pills, a shot, or topical preparations such as gels, ointments, or creams.

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Sometimes if you scratch your skin or her blisters rest open, friend can construct a bacterial infection. Your medical professional can give you a prescription antibiotic if that happens. The prescription may be for pills, a cream, or both.

8. Head for help

If friend have any kind of of the complying with symptoms, head to the emergency room or urgent care center:

last medically reviewed on July 9, 2018


Medically the review by Cynthia Cobb, DNP, APRN, WHNP-BC, FAANP — composed by Rebecca Morris — to update on march 7, 2019

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