Ways to Avoid the Itch of Poison Ivy

Aug 2, 2017

You're gonna need an ocean
Of calamine lotion
You'll be scratching like a hound
The minute you start to mess around...

Okay, name that tune.

Yep, it’s “Poison Ivy." And while the Coasters might have been singing about an ill-fated romance, plenty of people are going to find themselves in an unfortunate relationship with the three-leaved poison ivy plant this summer.

The American Academy of Dermatology states the rash people develop after coming in contact with poison ivy is caused by an oil found in the plants called urushiol. The itching and blistering typically starts 12-72 hours after coming in contact with oil. While it might seem that the rash spreads, poison ivy is not contagious and does not spread. There may just be a delayed reaction in where the rash appears on various parts of the body after contact.

To avoid contracting the rash associated with poison ivy, stay away from the plants and wear pants or apply a barrier cream if you will be walking in wooded areas. If you suspect you or your pet has encountered poison ivy, the Mayo Clinic recommends using soap and water to gently wash off the harmful oil from your skin. Scrub under your fingernails to prevent a rash. Also wash any other contaminated items as soon as possible. Urushiol can remain potent for years. If you put away gardening gloves without washing them and take them out next year, the oil on the gloves may still cause a rash.

Treat a rash with cool water and a mild soap, like Ivory. However, seek medical attention if you experience swelling with the rash.