How Do You Treat Poison Oak and Poison Ivy?

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Treat poison oak or poison ivy by applying a wet cloth to the rash and/or soaking the area in cool water, WebMD recommends. Use calamine lotion to help relieve itching. Patients should avoid scratching the rash as scratching can cause a skin infection.

When treating more severe cases of poison oak and poison ivy, doctors sometimes prescribe a corticosteroid cream to help clear up the rash, states WebMD. Doctors may treat very severe, widespread rashes with corticosteroid pills or shots.

There is no immediate cure for poison oak and poison ivy rashes, but a person who comes in contact with either plant can prevent a rash by washing the skin immediately with lots of water and a mild soap or rubbing alcohol, advises WebMD. Plenty of rinsing helps keep the soap or rubbing alcohol from drying on the skin and making the rash worse. Brushing under the nails helps ensure all of the oil is eliminated from the body, and washing any contaminated articles of clothing removes the oil from them.

When in areas where poison ivy or poison oak is present, wearing long pants, long sleeves, and closed shoes helps keep the oil from making contact with the skin, says WebMD. Washing these clothes as soon as possible keeps the oil from spreading.