Although you may associate outbreaks of poison ivy with the heat of summer, early spring and late fall can actually leave you more vulnerable to a blister-covered body: when poison ivy's telltale three leaves give way to a brown, dead-looking vine, it can be easy to inadvertently come into contact with it or even rip it down from tree trunks and telephone poles on your property. If you've found yourself with a full-body poison ivy breakout heading into fall, you may wonder what you can do to gain any reprieve. Read on to learn more about some home remedies that may relieve your itching and discomfort, as well as some of the steps you'll want to take if these methods don't go far enough at providing relief.
What can you do to minimize poison ivy's pain and itching at home?
Many believe that the oozing and seeping of poison ivy blisters can cause this skin condition to spread; however, this isn't the case. Once you've been exposed to urishiol, the component of poison ivy that causes skin irritation, the damage is done unless you can wash this oily substance off immediately. Depending upon your prior exposure to poison ivy and the thickness of the skin exposed to urishiol, poison ivy blisters may appear anywhere from a few hours to a week or more later. What appears to be "spreading" of poison ivy blisters is instead the delayed appearance of blisters in skin that took longer to develop them.
Once blisters have made their appearance, there's not much you can do with regard to prevention; however, by coating your skin in a protective layer of zinc oxide, you'll be able to protect your skin from damage and allay the itching you feel. You may also opt to take baths in colloidal oatmeal, which coats the blisters and temporarily relieves itching. Over-the-counter antihistamine medications can also help combat your itching and inflammation from the inside out.
When should you seek medical treatment for poison ivy?
Whenever poison ivy blisters cover much of your body or spread to your face and neck, you may need steroid treatment or a cortisone injection to reduce swelling and minimize the risk of future scarring. If your home remedies still leave you unable to concentrate or sleep, or if you're concerned by the number of square inches of your body covered with poison ivy blisters, you may want to visit an urgent care facillity for some immediate relief.
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