Allergy: Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
- Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Overview
- Causes of Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Rash
- Symptoms and Signs of Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Rash
- When to Seek Medical Care
- Exams and Tests
- Treatment of Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Rash
- Home Remedies for Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Rash
- Medical Treatment
- Medications for Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Rash
- Prevention of Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Rash
- Prognosis of Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Rash
- For More Information
- Read more on Allergy: Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac from Healthwise
- Allergy: Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Topic Guide
Home Remedies for Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Rash
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 unlikely 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 you too drowsy to drive a car or 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 call 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).
- Bystanders should administer CPR to a person who becomes unconscious and stops breathing and does not have a pulse.
- 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 12/23/2014
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