The all too common bubbly, oozing, and itchy rash most individuals know as poison ivy is caused by contact between the skin and an allergy-causing, itch-inducing substance, which is the oil from the leaves of the poison ivy plant and its relatives, poison oak and poison sumac. This causes more allergic contact dermatitis cases than all of the other plant families combined. While some individuals are immune, most are not, so knowing how to treat it if and when you get it is essential. Follow these suggestions to stop the itch and make your recovery as comfortable as possible.
Oatmeal Bath Products
A cool soak in oatmeal bath products is another effective way to get relief from poison ivy and other rashes. To find the relief you’re looking for, make sure you are using colloidal oatmeal and not your average breakfast cereal. This special kind of oatmeal is designed to bind to your skin and form a protective barrier over it, which serves to seal in moisture and reduce inflammation. It also effectively clears the skin with repeated use. If all you have is the breakfast type, make your own bath product using it by placing uncooked whole oats in the food processor and grinding them until they make a fine powder. For the best results, draw a cool to lukewarm bath and sprinkle it with one cup of colloidal oatmeal and then soak in the bath for ten to fifteen minutes.
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After you have used compresses and taken a calming bath, try Aveeno Anti-Itch Concentrated Lotion for more lasting relief. These options can typically be reapplied easily throughout the day if you find you are experiencing continued itching even with the other treatment methods. Calamine lotion and over-the-counter cortisone options are among the most common treatments. Calamine lotion is both soothing and itch-reducing, but it does typically have a milky pink color, which can be a detractor for some. Cortisone will help control inflammation and reduce the itch long-term. Depending on the severity of your rash, you may also benefit from do-it-yourself anti-itch treatments, including aloe vera gel, baking soda paste, or even cucumber slices applied to the area.
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Oral antihistamines are another treatment option to try if you need additional relief. There are several over-the-counter antihistamines available, but the two most common are loratadine and diphenhydramine. These treatments ease itching and reduce inflammation from the inside out. Diphenhydramine is often a preferred option for many at bedtime, as it has the added benefit of making you drowsy, which can help you ignore the itch and get better rest at night. However, you should avoid applying an antihistamine cream to the rash, as it may actually make the itching worse. If you need further recommendations of which oral antihistamines to try, ask a pharmacist for more advice on safe, effective options.
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Cool And Wet Compresses
Thoroughly cleansing your skin of the oil is your first line of defense against poison ivy. This step is essential, as the oil is actually what spreads the rash, not the oozing pus as most individuals think. Once you have gently washed the affected area with warm, soapy water, proceed to treat it with cool and wet compresses. This treatment will help reduce inflammation and minimize itching. It also keeps the skin from drying out, which can further irritate the affected areas. Compresses also help control any oozing areas.
For most individuals, an oral corticosteroid is the last line of defense. Most of these treatments are available primarily by a doctor's advice and are a higher dose treatment than many over-the-counter options. At any rate, this treatment is designed to reduce the symptoms as well as the severity of the rash. It can also shorten the duration of the reaction in many cases. Your doctor will likely have specific guidelines for administering this medication, such as only recommending it when the rash covers at least ten percent of the body or when the face, hands, or genitals are affected. Corticosteroids are available in m different forms, including creams, gels, ointments, and shots. However, the oral form is typically the most conducive treatment for many patients.