What do the words “poison ivy”, “poison oak” and “poison sumac” have in common? Well, they may all belong to the same plant family (Anacardiaceae) and genus (Rhus or Toxicodendron). Unfortunately, that also means they may all carry the poison or toxic oil urushiol that can cause severe rashes to the body.
Nobody knows the agonizing experience of dealing with poison ivy rash, poison oak rash or poison sumac rash than those who have fallen victims. But how were they able to treat the rashes?
Related Content: How to Prevent Poison Ivy Rash
Best Treatment for Poison Ivy Rash (Poison Oak & Poison Sumac Rash)
It is always said that prevention is better than cure. Those are truly wise words. The problem is, incidents of allergic reactions are still as perennial as the plants themselves. Also, rashes do not really have a cure. Rather, treatments are applied to ease the pain and discomfort. Sadly, people are often clueless about what to use for poison ivy and the likes.
Should one or a loved one develops rashes due to contact with the said plants, apply any poison ivy rash treatment, poison oak treatment, or poison sumac treatment mentioned below:
Medical First Aid
Take an antihistamine. Prescription antihistamine would be best. Unprescribed medicine might make things worse. WARNING: Beware of taking unprescribed antihistamines if the patient needs to be awake to do certain activities such as drive or operate a machinery. They can make one drowsy.
Take antibiotics only when the skin is infected with bacteria.
Take prescription oral corticosteroids, pills, liquids, or injections.
Have the rashes worsened (like swelling of the face and genitalia), causing the patient to wheeze or have difficulty in breathing? Use an inhaled bronchodilator or epinephrine to help open the airway. What’s more IMPORTANT, though, is once a patient experiences this, bring him/her to a DOCTOR immediately!
Poison Ivy Wash and Skin Cleansers
Zanfel Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Sumac Wash
- There’s no need to use too much of it. In fact, try to use less than what is required on the package and see if that already works. It really depends on the severity of the situation.
- Zanfel works in every stage. Of course, it is always advisable to apply at the earlier stages. But should the product not reach the buyer on time, it can still do its magic, even when there are already blisters and all.
- It works on any affected area, face and genitals included.
Keeping stock is very much recommended if a person hypersensitive to the plant’s poison oil, urushiol, lives where poison ivy (add in oak and sumac) is abundant. Bring it especially when going hiking and camping.
It’s really rather easy to use. Get a little from the tube, lather it, then spread on the affected area or areas. Some 20 to 30 seconds later, the itchiness stops. Then time to rinse off. Re-apply only when needed, which is when the itching returns. What Zanfel does really is to chemically bind the poison oil from the plant in a cluster, making it easy to wash off afterward. Follow instructions and things will go smoothly, just like the poison.
Again, the good takeaway is while it rids of the topical rashes, it is very safe for pregnant or nursing women and children. It is non-prescription but is very effective in removing skin irritants. If there’s only one thing it can’t do, it’s to treat blood-based reactions or systemic poison ivy. That is something for the doctors to take care of.
Tecnu Original Poison Oak & Ivy Outdoor Skin Cleanser
This liquid skin cleanser is a proven and effective remedy against poison ivy rashes. Include poison oak and poison sumac rashes, too.
Hardly anyone has said anything about it being ineffective. Those who have probably didn’t follow the directions on the package correctly (VERY IMPORTANT!) or may have waited too long before applying Tecnu. Maybe they did apply it on their skin but forgot to wash clothes and gears exposed to poison ivy.
The best way to use Tecnu Original is to apply it even before any rash begins. Of course, that’s possible if contact was surely made or at least suspected (or expected if one knew the plants were around in the first place). Begin the natural healing process as early as possible. Nip things in the bud by doing the application within 8 hours after exposure. It’s really just rubbing around and rinsing — rub vigorously around for two minutes then rinse with cool water (or wipe off using a piece of cloth). Repeat. Again, check out the instructions to be sure. If bathing, AVOID scrubbing with a brush. Tecnu Original can also be used in washing your tools, gears, clothes, and pets exposed to poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac.
Cold Water Therapy
- Immediately wash the skin with soap and water if rashes are suspected or if they have actually started. Always rinse when necessary. Washing should each be five to ten minutes. Do not use bleach!
- Use rubbing alcohol if it’s deemed a more effective approach. It dissolves and removes oils from the skin.
- Take a cool bath. To calm the skin further, soak in a tub of colloidal oatmeal or baking soda. If outdoors, find a cool body of water and jump right in. It’s very important to keep the body cool.
- For poison ivy itch relief, keep affected areas cool and moist by damping wet cloth on them. Do it several times a day, but avoid too much wetting and drying. Too much may cause rashes to itch more rather than cause relief.
Cold water is strictly advised because allergies only intensify under warm conditions.
The Alfresco Approach
- Expose the rashes to the air as much as possible. BUT, stay away from heat or warm weather.
- Use a humidifier. That will add moisture to the air if the skin is chronically dry.
Soothe with Care
Try applying soothing lotions/creams/cleansers and non-toxic special products as poison ivy, poison sumac, and poison oak remedies:
- Over the counter poison ivy treatment is also great in soothing the rash and relieve itching. Topical over-the-counter skin protectants (ex. zinc acetate, zinc carbonate, zinc oxide, calamine lotion)
- Topical anesthetics (ex. menthol, benzocaine)
- Corticosteroid cream
- Over-the-counter steroid like Hydrocortisone cream (apply about four times a day)
Remember, when cleansing, use cold water especially on the face.
Alternative Therapy: Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, Poison Sumac Rash Remedies
These are other ways to treat poison ivy rashes and relieve itchiness:
- Do a cold compress with milk.
- Dry up infected skin using the inside of a banana peel.
- Rub potato, baking soda, oatmeal, or cucumber paste on affected areas.
- Use turmeric paste: turmeric and lemon juice or rubbing alcohol, apply for 15 minutes then wipe off.
- Apply directly: cucumber slices, watermelon rinds, aloe vera (flesh of plant), cold tea bags
- Use vodka (apply directly then air-dry), vinegar (especially apple cider vinegar in a chilled spray bottle), or aloe vera juice.
- Soak a piece of cloth in cold coffee then damp on affected areas. Pour, if you want to.
- Oral Ivy relieves one from itching, rashes, blisters, and irritation (that causes the swelling), but it prevents these even before contact. If one knows beforehand that he or she is going to an area where the poisonous plant is abundant, take the drug 7 to 14 days before exposure. Definitely, one actually living in such an area should already be prepared against poison ivy attacks. These are particularly prevalent in the summer. It’s not just poison ivy but poison oak and poison sumac. For treating poison ivy symptoms, put 10 drops of Oral Ivy in 2 ounces of water every 2 hours as needed. As symptoms improve, reduce it to once every 4 hours, then twice daily until symptoms disappear. Place drops under tongue in 2 ounces of water at least 15 minutes before or half hour after eating, brushing teeth or drinking anything except water.
With all these poison ivy treatment and remedies, allergic reactions will definitely be more manageable. Keep these in mind. And if the location is somewhere where the offending plants are abundant, always make sure to have the necessary treatments ready at home.