Patients with poison ivy should avoid scratching, take short baths in colloidal oatmeal, and apply cortisol or hydrocortisone cream to the affected area, advises the American Academy of Dermatology. Antihistamine pills can be taken to reduce itching, but topical antihistamine creams should be avoided.
Most cases of poison ivy can be treated at home, according to The American Academy of Dermatology. However, patients should seek treatment from a certified dermatologist if symptoms do not improve within 7 to 10 days. Patients should go to the emergency room if they have trouble breathing or swallowing after coming into contact with poison ivy or if the rash covers most of the body. Patients with poison ivy rashes on the face or genitals should also seek medical treatment.
Learning to identify and avoid poison ivy can protect people from rashes, explains The American Academy of Dermatology. It is a vining plant that has three leaflets on each leaf and develops yellow-green flowers in the spring. If a person comes into contact with poison ivy, he can sometimes prevent a rash by washing the skin immediately with lukewarm, soapy water. Clothing that may have come into contact with poison ivy should also be washed because it may cause a rash if it is touched later.