Poison Ivy Dermatitis - Fairview Health Services
 
Print

Doctors and providers who treat this condition

  

Poison Ivy Rash

The rash and itching that you have is a delayed reaction to the oils of the Poison Ivy plant, which you probably came in contact with during the three days before your symptoms began. The skin will become red and itchy. Small blisters may appear, which can break and leak a clear yellow fluid. This fluid is not contagious to others. The reaction usually starts to go away after 1-2 weeks, but may take 4-6 weeks to fully clear.

Image of a poison ivy plant.

Home Care:

  • The plant oils that remain on your skin or clothes can be spread further on your own body and passed to others causing a similar reaction. Therefore, it is important to wash all of the plant oils off of your skin and any clothes that may have been exposed.

    • Zanfel (tm) is a new product that removes poison oak/ivy oils from the skin after exposure. It can be used before or after the rash appears. Relief from itching, redness and swelling often occurs within minutes after the first treatment. A second treatment 24 hours later may be needed. It is sold without a prescription.

    • Tecnu (tm) is another product that removes poison oak/ivy oils from the skin after exposure. It should not be used to treat the rash.

  • Wash all clothes that you were wearing in hot water with ordinary laundry detergent.

  • Avoid anything that heats up your skin (hot showers/baths, direct sunlight) since this will tend to make itching worse.

  • For weeping, blistered areas apply cold compresses. (Dip face cloth into a mixture of one pint of cold water with one packet of Domeboro Powder or Aveeno Oatmeal powder (available at drug stores)). This should be done for 30 minutes three times a day. Keep the solution refrigerated for future use. If large areas of skin are involved, you may take a lukewarm bath with one cup of cornstarch added to the water.

  • For localized rash, use hydrocortisone cream (available over-the-counter) for redness and irritation, unless another medicine was prescribed. For severe itching, apply an ice compress locally. You can also use benzocaine anesthetic cream or spray (available at drug and grocery stores as Lanacaine or Solarcaine).

  • Oral Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is an antihistamine available at drug and grocery stores. Unless a prescription antihistamine was given, Benadryl may be used to reduce itching if large areas of the skin are involved. Use lower doses during the daytime and higher doses at bedtime since the drug may make you sleepy. [NOTE: Do not use Benadryl if you have glaucoma or if you are a man with trouble urinating due to an enlarged prostate.] Claritin (loratidine) is an antihistamine that causes less drowsiness and is a good alternative for daytime use.

Follow Up

with your doctor or this facility if the rash gets worse or if you are not starting to improve after 1 week of treatment.

Get Prompt Medical Attention

if any of the following occur:

  • Severe swelling in the face, eyelids, mouth, throat or tongue

  • Spreading facial rash with swelling of mouth or eyelids

  • Rash that spreads to the groin and causes swelling of the penis, scrotum or vaginal area

  • Difficulty urinating due to swelling in the genital area

  • Signs of infection in the areas of broken blisters:

    • Spreading redness

    • Pus or fluid draining from the blisters

    • Yellow-brown crusts form over the open blisters

    • Fever of 100.4°F (38ºC) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

 

 
 Visit Other Fairview Sites 
 
 
(c) 2012 Fairview Health Services. All rights reserved.