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Poison Ivy Treatment

Reaction to poison ivy is classed under the term contact dermatitis and is caused when the oily resin called urushiol comes into contact with the skin. It is found in poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac leaves, stems and roots. Some are not sensitive to this substance and will not react when contacting these plants. Those with a form of contact dermatitis that is reactive to urushiol can experience troublesome rash, itching and swelling of the skin that comes into contact with it. It can also spread to other parts of the body.

You should immediately wash any part of your body that contacts these plants with soap and water; you may be able to wash off the oily resin and prevent a rash and skin irritation. Mild poison ivy/oak/sumac rash and irritation can be treated with cool baths and OTC anti-itch creams. Any severe rash, itching or outbreak in the mouth or on the genitals should be seen as soon as possible by a dermatologist.

Treatment for Poison Ivy/Poison Oak/Poison Sumac

Wise outdoorsmen will learn the characteristics of these plants so they can avoid them when discovered in the wild. Sometimes, the plant can proliferate along the edges of settled property in underbrush. Burning the dead plants with old wood can cause the residue to spread in the smoke and cause skin irritation and trouble breathing for those who are allergic to urushiol.

Severe outbreaks will likely cause your dermatologist to prescribe an oral corticosteroid and prescription-strength anti-itch cream for topical application. If an infection occurs, you may also need antibiotic cream and oral medications. Avoid scratching at the affected skin to prevent popping the blisters and spreading the condition to other parts of your body. Wear loose-fitting clothing and avoid excess heat or sweating, as this can also spread the condition.

For more questions about at-home treatments for poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac, or if you need professional treatment for a worsening condition, contact Spectrum Dermatology of Atlanta. Our talented team can answer your questions and provide fast, effective relief when needed for contact dermatitis that reacts to poison ivy/oak/sumac in and around Atlanta.

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