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  Poison Ivy Survival Guide
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You’ll also find some creams on the market which are designed to protect you from poison ivy exposure. These products coat the epidermis with a substance that neutralizes the oil before it penetrates your skin. Consult your dermatologist for more information.

Symptoms

About one in 10 people experience an allergic reaction to poison ivy within a few hours, Unfortunately when blisters appear, that means the deep dermis layer is affected. These symptoms can last from 3 to 10 weeks. Typical reactions, depending on the amount of exposure, include redness and swelling, rash, and blisters at the points of contact-but not on areas which have not been exposed to the oil.

Treatment

Most experts recommend washing the affected area thoroughly to remove as much oil as possible. Lots of soap and water will work. Some claim that using rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) on exposed areas first removes more oil. If you wash with rubbing alcohol, keep in mind that your skin's natural protection from nature's nasty things will be temporarily gone-so you might not want to go back out to the same area again because of the risk of a second contact with poison ivy.

It pays to treat all clothing that may have been infected as hazardous waste. Seal all articles in plastic bags until you can put them in the washing machine. Don’t forget to wash everything that may have come into contact with poison ivy, including hats, jackets, shoes, camping accessories, pets, chair legs, and balls. If you don’t, you may be in for a nasty surprise next hunting or fishing season, when you use touch these items later!

To ease itching, you can use calamine lotion, baking soda or oatmeal. For mild cases, wet compresses or soaking in cool water may be effective. Topical antihistamine products may also help. Over-the-counter topical corticosteriods (commonly called hydrocortisones under brand names such as Cortaid and Lanacort) may also provide relief from itching.

Multiple broken blisters, or dark red lines in the skin radiating from a scratched rash area, or any reaction that may indicate a general allergic reaction deserves immediate, professional medical attention.

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