Contact dermatitis is an allergic reaction to poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. Touching these plants can cause an uncomfortable skin rash, leaving skin red and itchy. The rash often shows up in lines or streaks. They are often marked by fluid-filled bumps or blisters and sometimes large raised areas or hives.
Poison ivy is often found in woody areas. The plant has three almond-shaped leaflets ranging in color from light green to dark. In the fall it turns red. The leaflets are three to 12 centimeters long. The leaves are smooth with few teeth on its edges.
Since poison ivy can quickly spread through contact, it is best to not to spread it. Most experts recommend washing the affected areas thoroughly to remove the oil. Using a lot of soap and water will work.
Others claim that putting rubbing alcohol on an exposed area will remove more oil than washing only with soap and water. It should be noted that when using rubbing alcohol to wash off poison ivy, it will also take away your skin’s natural protection for a period of time. This will leave skin more open to poison ivy, sumac and oak. It is best not to revisit the woody area if using rubbing alcohol.
Try taking some baking soda and a wet washcloth. Sprinkle baking soda onto the itchy area and rub it vigorously. This will provide some temporary relief for itchy skin. It will also help dry out of the oils from the poison ivy.
Some have suggested using Vicks Vapor Rub. The mentholated rub seems to clear up some of the itching of contact dermatitis.
In some cases, doing nothing is the best solution. Don’t scratch and avoid contact to other people and other parts of the body.
Others may try chamomile lotion to cool the skin. Also remember not to scratch the itches. Irritated skin will become more agitated with addition scratches. Also, scratches itches may spread the oils beyond the affected area.
Treat all clothing that has been exposed to the poison ivy. Seal all articles of clothing in plastic bags until they can be placed into a washing machine. Clean everything that may have come in contact with poison ivy including shoes, jackets, camping gear and pets. Remember that the oil still stays on these items until thoroughly cleaned.
To calm poison ivy itching, use calamine lotion, baking soda or oatmeal. For mild cases, use a wet compress or soak the area in cool water to calm the itching. Using topical antihistamine products, such as Benadryl, can also stop itching.
For severe blisters or red areas, seek medical attention from a physician.