When Might Poison Ivy Warrant an Office Visit?

itchy arm

To the untrained eye, poison ivy looks like a normal, harmless plant. But every year, millions of Americans experience just how unpleasant it can be.

Poison ivy contains an oil called urushiol which causes a delayed allergic reaction in most people. After coming in contact with the plant, it could take up to five days for the resulting skin rash to fully emerge. Then, depending on its severity, it could take an additional three weeks for the symptoms to subside.

Brenda McSherry, FNP
Brenda McSherry, FNP

Brenda McSherry, a family nurse practitioner with Mizzou Quick Care, said several at-home remedies could help calm the itching, burning, blistering and oozing that accompanies a poison ivy rash.

“Try taking a baking soda, oatmeal or Domboro solution bath,” she said. “Applying aloe vera gel or hydrocortisone cream helps cool and soothe the skin. Oral antihistamines like Benadryl can also provide temporary relief from the itching, as can intermittent use of cold packs — 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off.”

McSherry said people with severe cases of poison ivy often do not realize a trip to Mizzou Quick Care could help expedite the healing process.

“Mizzou Quick Care can be especially helpful if the rash is widespread or affecting the eyes or genital areas,” she said. “We can prescribe strong topical steroid creams or oral steroid medications to help heal the rash, and we can suggest several other treatments based upon your unique case.”

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