Poison Ivy | Treatment

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How is poison ivy treated?

Urushiol can bond to your skin within minutes. If you think that you've come in contact with poison ivy, you need to wash the area with plain cool water as soon as possible. This may help to get some of the oil off your skin. Products that contain solvents such as mineral oil (brand names: Technu, Zanfel) also may help to remove urushiol from your skin. Because urushiol can remain active for a long time, be sure to wash your clothes, shoes, tools or anything else that may have touched the plant (like camping, sporting, fishing or hunting gear).

If you develop a poison ivy rash, it will go away on its own in 1 to 3 weeks. Several over-the-counter medications are available to relieve the itching, including:

  • Hydrocortisone creams (brand name: Cortizone-10)
  • Calamine lotion
  • Antihistamine tablets (one brand name: Benadryl)
  • Oatmeal baths

Call your doctor if:

  • You have a fever over 100° F (37.8° C)
  • The rash covers large areas of your body
  • The rash is in your eyes, mouth or on your genital area
  • There is pus coming from the blisters
  • The rash does not get better after a few days

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 04/14
Created: 06/05

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