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Allergy: Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac (cont.)

Home Remedies for Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Rash

Patient Comments

If someone is exposed to any of these plants or their oils, wash thoroughly with soap and water as soon as possible. An alternative is rubbing alcohol, which can dissolve and remove the oils from the skin. If the oil is removed within 10 minutes, it's much less likely a rash will develop.

Symptoms from a mild rash can sometimes be relieved by the following home remedies:

  • Cool compresses with water or milk
  • Calamine -- a nonprescription lotion
  • Aveeno oatmeal bath -- a product that's put in the bath to relieve itching
  • Oral antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) -- Caution: These medications may make someone too drowsy to drive a car or to operate machinery safely.

Nonprescription corticosteroid (for example, hydrocortisone) creams usually do not help.

Do not use bleach to cleanse rash from poison ivy, oak, or sumac. These areas are open wounds, and bleach is a harsh substance that can damage the skin and slow the healing process.

Do not attempt to treat severe (or anaphylactic, see above) reactions or to "wait it out" at home. Go immediately to the nearest emergency department or preferably, call 911 and take an ambulance. Here are some things to do while waiting for the ambulance:

  • Stay calm.
  • Prevent further exposure to the "poisonous" plant.
  • Take an antihistamine (one to two tablets or capsules of diphenhydramine [Benadryl]) if it's possible to swallow without difficulty.
  • If someone is wheezing or having difficulty breathing, use an inhaled bronchodilator such as albuterol (Proventil) or epinephrine (Primatene Mist) if one is available. These inhaled medications open up (dilate) the airway.
  • If someone is feeling lightheaded or faint, lie down and raise the legs higher than the head to help blood flow to the brain.
  • If someone has been given an epinephrine kit (EpiPen) for a previous allergic reaction, inject oneself as instructed. The kit provides a premeasured dose of epinephrine, a prescription drug that rapidly reverses the most serious symptoms (see Follow-up).
  • If at all possible, someone should be prepared to tell medical personnel what medications the afflicted individual takes and his or her allergy history.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/12/2015

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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac:

Poison Ivy Oak And Sumac - Symptoms

What symptoms did you experience with your poison ivy or poison oak?

Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac - Treatment

What treatment was effective for your poison ivy?

Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac - Remedies

What home remedies helped your poison ivy, oak, or sumac rash?




Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Plant Poisoning, Toxiccodendron »

Toxicodendron dermatitis is an allergic contact dermatitis (allergic phytodermatitis) that occurs from exposure to members of the plant genus Toxicodendron.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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