To get rid of poison ivy as fast as possible, people should begin treatment as soon as symptoms appear or before symptoms appear if they suspect they have come into contact with poison ivy plants, according to WebMD. Those affected should scrub their skin with water and dishwashing soap or rubbing alcohol and rinse frequently to avoid the soap or alcohol drying on the skin and exacerbating the rash.
WebMD also says that people should clean under their nails with a brush and launder any clothing that might contain urushiol, the oily substance that causes poison ivy reactions.
Mayo Clinic notes that self-treatment usually takes care of poison ivy rashes in two to three weeks. However, severe rashes or many blisters may warrant a doctor visit. A doctor may prescribe a corticosteroid, and patients may also need an antibiotic if their rashes have become infected.
Mayo Clinic also notes that the most risky kind of exposure happens when poison ivy plants are burned because that means possible inhalation, which affects the lungs. Fifty percent or more of people who come into contact with poison ivy plants develop rashes. Urushiol is in the leaves, roots and stems of poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac.