What Should I Do About My Poison Ivy Rash?

Many of us have been there before: Enjoying a beautiful spring or summer day outside, only to come home and discover an itchy, bumpy rash that doesn’t go away for weeks. Poison ivy is certainly the worst, but are there things you can do to get rid of it quickly or treat it effectively?

Our AFC Urgent Care Fountain City team provides some helpful answers below.

What Makes Poison Ivy Cause a Rash?

Poison ivy contains an oil called urushiol, which typically causes an allergic skin reaction. In fact, urushiol causes an allergic reaction to nearly 85% of the world’s population!

When you come in contact with poison ivy, the plant releases urushiol as a defense mechanism, which makes it easily wiped from the plant to other objects, such as clothes, pets and other objects. Also, smoke from the plant can contain urushiol. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms below, you’ve likely come in contact with poison ivy.

Common Poison Ivy Symptoms

  • Small bumps that quickly turn into blisters where the plant oil touched the skin
  • Severe itching
  • Redness and swelling
  • Blisters that break, ooze fluid and crust over.

How Long Does the Rash Last?

A poison ivy rash usually develops 12 to 48 hours after exposure and lasts two to three weeks.

There are some prevention tactics to keep in mind to avoid a future poison ivy rash! We’ve listed them below.

Ways to Prevent Poison Ivy

  • Avoid the plants. This sounds simple, but it’s important to learn how to identify poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac in all seasons. When hiking or engaging in other activities that might expose you to these plants, try to stay on cleared pathways.
  • Wear protective clothing. If needed, protect your skin by wearing socks, boots, pants, long sleeves and heavy gloves when in areas that could contain poison ivy.
  • Wash your skin or pet’s fur. Within 30 minutes after exposure to urushiol, use soap and water to gently wash off the oil from your skin. Even washing after an hour or so can help reduce the severity of the rash. If you think your pet may have gotten into poison ivy, put on some long rubber gloves and give your pet a bath to get rid of the oil.

Has your child returned home from summer camp with a gnarly poison ivy rash? If so, don’t hesitate to visit our AFC Urgent Care Fountain City team today!