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  » First Aid  »  Poison Ivy
Poison ivy, poison sumac, and poison oak are the most common plants producing an allergic contact dermatitis. The best way to prevent a reaction is to recognize and avoid all contact with their leaves.

  • Skin reaction varies in severity; there may be generalized swelling, rash, itching, and blisters.
  • Some people may suffer headache, fever, and malaise.
  • As soon as possible after contact, whether or not a reaction occurs, remove all contaminated clothing, including shoes, and wash all exposed areas thoroughly with strong soap. Apply alcohol and rinse copiously with water.
  • If a rash appears, apply calamine or other soothing lotion. Corticosteroid creams or lotions also ease itching and swelling, but follow label instructions. Apply these creams or lotions only to limited areas and do not use them on young children. If you have questions about their application, consult your doctor.
  • Cover weeping or oozing blisters with sterile gauze moistened in a mild solution of 1 tablespoon of baking soda in 1 quart of water.
  • If fever or severe symptoms such as widespread rash or involvement of mouth, eyes or genitals occur, see a doctor. Your doctor may treat the reaction with other medicines, such as prednisone.
  • As an alternative therapy, herbalists recommend covering poison ivy blisters with a bandage soaked with tea made from equal portions of white oak bark and lime water.