Poison ivy is a three-leaf plant that causes skin irritation upon contact, resulting a red and itchy rash. The rash may consist of bumps, blisters and/or swelling -- and can last from a week to three weeks, according to the Mayo Clinic. Most people are susceptible to poison ivy and other similar plants (poison oak and poison sumac). Poison ivy rashes are not serious, but they are inconvenient and must be treated. Rashes can be self-treated using a number of methods.
Popular Home Treatment
Using baking soda, create a paste from an equal amount of water and baking soda. Put the paste -- in an even layer -- on the affected areas. This baking soda and water mixture will cool off the burning sensation and end the itching immediately. In some cases, consistent use of this mixture can completely cure the rash, but in other cases, other remedies must be used to supplement the baking soda.
Cortisone cream is the most popular over-the-counter medicine for poison ivy relief. It reduces swelling and itching and speeds the healing of the skin, according to PoisonIvyCure.net. If you catch the outbreak early, zanfel cream is also effective. It must be used before the poison oil seeps into your skin. Zanfel cream can also be used to prevent poison ivy rashes before contact.
If you are forced to see a doctor for poison ivy, you have a more serious case. Worst-case scenarios often require steroid creams. These kill the infected cells so new skin cells can grow. Poison ivy occasionally requires hospitalization, and steroid creams and similar remedies are prescribed. It's important to remember that if prescribed a steroid cream, do not use more than instructed. If you do, bigger problems than poison ivy could arise.