When it comes to treating
poison ivy and oak rash, there is no suggestion we haven't read or
heard during our many years of making outdoor solutions. While the
majority of the time those that give advice mean well, the advice
can often be more harmful than it is helpful. Before we address
proper treatment of the rash, it is important to cover and correct
the following common misconceptions:
1.) Use bleach to treat your rash - Bleach can
cause chemical burns, irritation and swelling when exposed to skin.
It can also destroy melanin (pigment) in the body. Stick to a
cleanser designed to remove urushiol (the rash causing oil) such as
2.) Wash with scalding hot water - Some
suggest washing a poison ivy or oak rash with hot water because it
feels good. The problem with using hot water is that it opens up
the pores in your skin creating a pathway for urushiol to enter.
Using cool water will keep pores closed. Additionally, washing with
extremely hot water can cause burns and further irritation.
3.) How the rash spreads - Most people think
that the continuing spread of their rash is from the initial
contact with the plant. However if you have a rash that is
continuing to spread for weeks, you are likely coming in contact
with the plant oil again. Look for sources of contact with the
urushiol such as shoes, tools, or a pet that may have encountered
the plant and could be carrying the oil. Unless it is properly
removed, urushiol can remain on these items for years.
4.) Breaking blisters - The blisters that form
during a poison ivy or oak rash are part of your body's allergic
response and do not contain the rash-causing oil. Blisters do not
cause the rash to spread. The blisters should not be broken on
purpose, as it creates a potential point of entry for bacteria that
could result in a skin infection. Keep blistered skin loosely
covered with a bandage to help protect it.
When it comes to treating a poison ivy or oak rash, the
steps are simple:
- REMOVE OIL: Before you treat the symptoms of a
rash, you need to remove the rash-causing oil, urushiol. Found in
all parts of the plants including the roots, stems, and leaves,
urushiol is an oily substance that can be tough to remove with just
soap and water. Using a cleanser designed specifically to remove
urushiol such as Tecnu®
Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser or Tecnu Extreme® Poison
Ivy Scrub will yield better results.
- TREAT: After you have successfully removed the
urushiol, you can treat the symptoms of your rash. Products like
Calagel or Tecnu Rash Relief Spray can help relieve the itching,
burning, and oozing associated with poison ivy rash. If your rash
symptoms persist for more than 7 days without improvement, seek
advice from a medical professional.