How to treat poison ivy and poison oak

Poison ivy or poison oak rashes are one of the hazards of being outside in the summer. The best way to avoid a reaction is to avoid areas where you know poisonous plants grow, or cover up with long pants or sleeves if you have to be in the area.

If you do get exposed, wash your skin with soap and water or rubbing alcohol. You have about 10 minutes to wash the oil off your skin to avoid a rash. Also, scrub under your nails. You can spread poison ivy to other parts of the body by having oil on your fingers.

Treating a rash

A few remedies can help reduce your itch if you’ve encountered poison ivy, poison oak or other poisonous plants.

  • Use a cold compress to relieve itching.
  • Try calamine lotion, an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream or antihistamine.
  • Call your doctor if the rash is near your eyes or covers a large part of your body.

Phone the Baptist Health Line 24/7 at (270) 575-2918 if you have questions about a poison ivy reaction. Our nurses welcome your questions, and we’ll answer them here every Wednesday.

About Baptist Health Paducah

Baptist Health Paducah is a regional medical and referral center, serving about 200,000 patients a year from four states. With more than 1,800 employees and 200 physicians, it offers a full range of services, including cardiac and cancer care, diagnostic imaging, women’s and children’s services, surgery, emergency treatment, rehabilitation and more. Since its humble beginning in 1953, Baptist Health Paducah has grown from 117 beds to 349 beds on a campus covering eight square blocks.
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