Poison ivy or contact dermatitis, as it is also called, is caused by contact with the oil of the poison ivy plant or similar plants whose chemicals cause a blister-like itching rash. Poison ivy can occur only after actual contact with the sap of the plant or from the smoke of a burning plant.
Once it has been bound to the skin it cannot spread to other sites, although other areas of poison ivy may become apparent over the next one to two days. It is possible to contact additional sap from clothing that has sap on it and has not yet been washed. The obvious best treatment is prevention of contact with poison ivy plants or similar plants.
Treatment for Poison Ivy
If you do accidentally come in contact with the plant, wash the involved skin and clothing immediately. Treatment involves applying cool compresses made by soaking gauze pads or washcloths in Burrow’s Solution which can be obtained at a local pharmacy. It is helpful to do this three or four times daily. Calamine lotion, Caladryl Clear, or Cortaid can also be applied to relieve itching and hasten healing.
Oral Benadryl, one teaspoon for every 25 pounds of body weight, can be given every six hours for itching. If these measures fail to relieve itching or control poison ivy, or the rash involves the face, please call our office. If there is fever, excessive swelling, pain, redness, or pus-like drainage from the area, please call our office.