The best ways to get rid of poison ivy include steps to take to prevent exposure to poison ivy and treat the unpleasantness that comes after the skin comes in contact with the plant. Skin irritation, from poison ivy or otherwise, is never fun but with the right treatment, dealing with the itching and burning can be a little less unpleasant.
Like with most skin irritants, the best way to deal with poison ivy is to stay away from it in the first place. Learn to identify the plant then when you do see it, stay far, far away. If however the exposure to poison ivy already happened, then follow these tips to help sooth what is assuredly itchy and burning skin.
Before you do anything, wash the skin that was affected as soon as possible and launder any clothes that may have been exposed. If you can wash off the oils in the poison ivy plant within 10 minutes of exposure, your suffering will be greatly reduced as a result. Once you're clean, apply one of several topical soothers to ease the itching and burning. Anti-itch creams work great as do home remedies like baking soda, vinegar, cold coffee and even a number of foods likely in your refrigerator already.
If these tips do not work, you have a fever or the rash gets insanely worse, don't hesitate to seek out help from a medical professional. There is no shame in going to a doctor, emergency room or urgent care if the rash seems worse than normal. Don't be stubborn! Your skin will thank you.
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Learn How to Identify Poison Ivy
Preventing exposure to poison ivy means you don't have to deal with the itchy consequences of touching it but to prevent contact, you first need to know what it looks like. Poison ivy is characterized by three shiny green leaves supported by a red stem. You can commonly find it growing low to the ground or as a vine near fresh water sources like rivers and lakes. In the spring, the plant may have yellow-green flowers while in early fall, the plant may have green berries that turn off-white. Remember the old saying, "leaves of three, let it be."
In most cases, poison ivy exposure can be successfully treated by one of many home remedies but in certain cases, seeking medical help is necessary. Itching and burning is normal but if the rash is on your face or genitals, is over a large percentage of your body, includes blisters that ooze pus, is accompanied by a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, or does not improve within a few weeks, it's time to see a doctor. Don't be a tough guy (or girl), seek help from a medical professional if you have any of these symptoms.
When the heat of the poison ivy rash sets in, get immediate relief by cooling down the area. Apply a cold compress or ice, wrapped in a towel of course, to the area or if you're an aspiring member of the polar bear club, draw a cool bath and soak in it. Limit the icing to about 10-15 minutes per session.
Poison ivy causes a skin rash due to its leaves containing urushiol, an oily allergen. The first step in finding relief from the awful side effects of urushiol is to stop the exposure to your skin. Strip down and out of any clothing that may have been exposed to poison ivy and quickly wash it. Wash the affected area with cool water and a mild cleanser. Rubbing alcohol and regular dish soap both work great in this step to release the oils from your skin.