Poison ivy, scientific name Toxicodendron radicans is a woody vine that belongs to the family Anacardiaceae. This plant is well-known for its active ingredient urushiol, a toxic organic oil responsible for causing skin rashes on contact with the plant. The resulting skin allergic reaction is referred to as urushiol induced contact dermatitis. In most cases, red, itchy rash is developed in lines, which later progresses to fluid-filled blisters. It is found that about 15-25 percent people are resistant to poison ivy plant.
One of the concerning facts about poison ivy is that it is distributed all over the world, especially in mountainous habitats. Since the plant is hardy, it also grows in brackish soil, open fields, disturb areas, and underneath trees. Hence, it is quite common to come in contact with poison ivy. There are organizations that distribute posters and information of poison ivy in an attempt to make people aware about the dangers of the plant.
Best Cure for Poison Ivy Rash
Urushiol induced contact dermatitis should be treated as soon as possible, otherwise the symptoms may worsen to anaphylaxis. The severity of the allergic reactions vary depending on the amount of urushiol oil that you have been exposed to. On the safer note, it is important to understand the home remedies for poison ivy, so that you can practice them in case of accidental contacts with the plant. Following are some of the best cures for the rash.
Clean the Exposed Area: The first aid step after exposure to poison ivy is to immediately clean the skin by using alcohol, and wash with cold water. If you manage to clean the area within 10 minutes, then you are less likely to develop urushiol induced contact dermatitis. Make sure you don't use soap, as it can spread the oil to other parts of the body. Some people prefer to clean with very hot water (tolerable temperature) to relieve the itching.
Cold Compress and Oatmeal Bath: Application of cold compress along with oatmeal bath is also considered a good cure. Apply wet compress to the itchy skin area for about 15-20 minutes for 3-4 times a day. This will help in relieving the skin irritation and discomfort caused by urushiol oil. For oatmeal baths, boil oatmeal until it is softened, and add in the water for bathing. Another option is to wrap the cooked oatmeal in a cloth and place it over the affected skin area. This will fasten the rupturing of the blisters and healing of the rashes.
Baking Soda Mixture: Another effective remedy for poison ivy is usage of baking soda. Make a paste by mixing three parts of baking soda with one part of water. Apply this mixture topically on the affected skin areas. If rashes are spread in various parts of the body, you can take a baking soda bath by dissolving half a cup of baking soda in a bucket of lukewarm water. Application of baking soda helps in quick drying of the skin rashes.
Antihistamines and Calamine Lotion: Over-the-counter or non-prescription oral antihistamines can be administered in order to combat severe itching and discomfort over the exposed area. You can also apply calamine lotion to the skin that has been brushed with poison ivy plant.
The best way to prevent urushiol induced contact dermatitis is to identify the plant and avoid contact with it. Also, remember that indirect contact with urushiol oil through pet fur, clothes, and gardening tools that are contaminated with the toxin also results in skin rash. Explain the harmful effects and allergies of poison ivy to the kids, so that they will avoid exposing to this toxic plant. Consult a qualified physician in case of moderate to severe rashes. The physician may prescribe topical steroid creams and/or oral steroids to combat the itching symptoms of contact dermatitis.