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Treatment Options for Poison Ivy

Posted by Ethanngo1636781 on 12 May, 2016

As this beautiful weather begins, nothing can help you connect with nature and nurture your soul like a good camping and hiking adventure. While there are many positive physical benefits to these activities, a nagging ailment can accompany the experience and derail the fun. Poison ivy is a common affliction during these spring and summer months.

Poison oak and poison sumac are close cousins of poison ivy and will give you the same annoying and even dangerous rash. The rash comes from an allergic reaction to the oil in the plants called urushoil.

Urushoil binds with your skin and causes a rash consisting of red hives and blisters on your skin.  In some people, the allergic reaction causes swollen tissue in the face and neck which is considered a medical emergency requiring hospital intervention.  For all others, there are three common treatment options.  


Benadryl is your first option for treating poison ivy.  You probably have this medication in your medicine cabinet.  If not, it is easily obtained over-the-counter at your local Walmart or pharmacy.

Benadryl is an antihistamine that will stop the work of the H1 histamine which causes the itching and blisters. Benadryl is best for nighttime use because of its tendency to cause drowsiness.

One way to increase the effectiveness of Benadryl is to add Zantac.  Zantac can also be purchased over-the-counter and is generally taken as a heartburn medicine.  However, in addition to treating heartburn, Zantac is known to stop the H2 histamine produced in response to urushoil.


Your next treatment option is to use Hydrocortisone or a similar corticosteroid.  Corticosteroids come in pills, creams, or shots.  The most common form is a cream that you rub on the rash.  The effect is soothing if not entirely effective for curing the underlying issue. 


Your final treatment option is probably your best.  Zanfel is an over-the-counter cream that produces results by unbinding the urushoil from the skin.  Because Zanfel removes the oil from the skin, the rash stops spreading.  Using Zanfel as a precautionary method after touching poison ivy might even prevent a rash.

Zanfel is cream, but it is not left on the skin like a corticosteroid.  Apply the cream to the affected area and rub it in for about 30 seconds.  Then, wash it off.  Your itchiness should stop right away, and the rash should stop spreading.  If not, use the cream again.

When treating yourself, don’t forget to treat your clothes. It’s important to wash clothes out to prevent contacting the oil again.  While, poison ivy is not a pleasant experience, and can in fact, be miserable, but fortunately there are a number of options for treatment.  Benadryl, corticosteroids, and Zanfel are some of your best options.

If a poison ivy or poison oak rash is causing excessive discomfort and you are having trouble concentrating or sleeping, visit your nearest Urgent Clinics Medical Care location in Pearland, Champions, The Woodlands and 3 locations in League City: Creekside, Marina Bay and Tuscan Lakes.  Our friendly healthcare professionals welcome the opportunity to help you manage your reaction and get back to living the life you love.



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