THURSDAY, April 23, 2015 (HealthDay News) – Pruritus, rashes of poison ivy, oak and sumac are common and are caused by an oil in plants called urushiol.
Usually, you can experience these rashes at home, says the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). But you should go to the emergency room immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Respiratory distress or swallowing,
- The rash covers most of your body, you have many rashes or blisters or the rash develops anywhere on your face or genitals,
- You develop edema, especially if the eyelid swells,
- A large part of your skin is in danger or nothing facilitates the itching.
If you do not have any of these symptoms, you can probably experience the rash at home, according to AAD.
If you know you have touched poisonous ivy, poisonous oak or poisonous hem, immediately rinse your skin with lukewarm soapy water. This can remove any of the oils from the plants. Wash thoroughly all the clothes you wore when you came into contact with the plant. The oil can stick to clothing and cause another rash if contaminated clothing touches your skin.
You should also use hot soapy water to wash everything that oil may have on its surface, such as gardening tools, golf clubs, straps and even your pet's fur.
Avoid scratching, which can cause contamination. And just leave the blisters. Taking shortly, lukewarm baths with an oatmeal preparation that you can buy at a pharmacy, or with a cup of baking soda added to the water, can help ease the itching. Soon, cool showers can also help.
Other ways to relieve pruritus include the use of saline lotion or hydrocortisone cream on your skin. Applying cool compresses can also help you relax. Make a cool compress by wiping a clean cloth with cold water and pushing it so it does not drip.
Antihistamine pills may also reduce itching, but use it with care, AAD noted. Do not apply antihistamines to the skin. This could exacerbate rash and itch, AAD said.
Visit a doctor if the rash does not improve within seven to 10 days or if you think you may have an infection.
The US National Library of Medicine has more for poison ivy, sumac and oak.