Dr. Bob Arnot discusses Poison Ivy, how to avoid it and treatment options.
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I am Dr. Bob Arnot. It is not often that the children’s rhyme is the best protection against an irritating ailment, when it comes to poison ivy the old advice is true, three leaves let it be. You are outside during the summer and you see that typical three leaf pattern and a climbing throb if you see that in a regular throb or ground cover, you want to stay away. Now, your clues here from your yard make certain that you have gloves on. You want to a long sleeves shirt and of course long trousers. One key thing is you do not want to burn poison ivy, the reason is that the oils is so allergic that in the smoke surrounding a fire people can actually get that characteristic rash. Now, if despite all of these precautions you still get poison ivy here is the best way to treat it. There are a lot of myths associated with poison ivy, some people think poison ivy can spread if you scratch it or from the liquid in the blisters. The truth is if the poison ivy is spreading that just means that you are still in contact with something contaminated by the plants oils, that is why it is really important to wash all the clothes and your shoes in hot water that you were wearing at the time of exposure. Once the rash and blisters break out, your best bet for the itching is to use Benadryl in combination with an over-the-counter steroid cream or calamine lotion. You may also try cool oatmeal baths which along with the calamine will help dry out the blisters. However, if the symptoms are really severe, you should come in and we may give you a short term prescription for a steroid medication to help reduce the swelling and itching. If you have trouble breathing, however, or start having problems involving your eyes or mouth, go directly to the emergency room.