Every once and a while we get an email or phone call from a
consumer who has tried everything for their poison ivy or oak rash,
and they just aren't getting better. Sometimes the problem is they
did try everything - all together at the same time!
It is human nature to want the hot, miserable, itchy poison
plant rash to go away quickly so logically one would think if you
apply everything to it, it must work, right? Unfortunately, that is
just not true and can potentially be dangerous.
There are two important steps you should take when treating a
poison ivy, oak or sumac rash…
- First, you need to remove the plant oil, urushiol, from your
skin. The reason you get the rash is because your body is reacting
to this foreign substance. Wash that off so it doesn't keep
spreading around, and your body can begin its healing process.
- Second, you are going to want to apply some type of anti-itch
medication. You are most likely still suffering from that miserable
itch even after you have taken care of removing the urushiol. The
rash is still there.
Now, you will want to find the right product that works for you.
Remember a few things when deciding on what to use:
- To remove urushiol, choose a cleanser or detergent that is
formulated to remove this rash-causing oil. Some soaps tend to just
move the oil around. A product, like Tecnu, will actually unlock the urushiol bond
with your skin and help wash it away.
- Poison ivy and oak rashes can blister and ooze. Look for a
product that is designed specifically for poison plant rashes so it
will help dry up the rash and relieve itching.
- Read the active and inactive ingredients on any
medication you use to make sure it is not formulated with
substances you are allergic to.
- Try one and only one anti-itch medication at a time. If you mix
more than one medication together you may have a bad chemical
reaction or possibly an overdose of medication. For instance, when
topical anti-itch gel, you do not want to also use an oral Benadryl
as you can potentially overdose.
- If one medication does not work well for you, wait until the
next dosage time before switching to another medication. If you are
miserable and can't wait, consult a medical professional so they
can advise you of any possible drug interactions. Your local
pharmacist is an excellent resource.