Poison Ivy

Illustration by Peter Arkle

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How to Treat Poison Ivy
(or Oak, or Sumac)

Quick! Grab a bar of soap and wash off that nasty urishiol (the oil found on these poisonous plants). If you act within ten minutes, you can get rid of 50 percent of the rash-inducing substance, says dermatologist Benabio. Within 30 minutes, you can still rinse away about 10 percent. After a couple of hours, unfortunately, you'll probably be stuck with a rash for about two weeks. (The good news: After an hour or so, the oil—and the itchy rash—can't spread.) When blisters form, an astringent soak like Domeboro can help dry them. Once the blisters are gone, take cool baths with colloidal oatmeal (try Aveeno Soothing Bath Treatment) and apply a hydrocortisone cream to minimize itching. Next time you might be exposed to poison ivy (and the chances keep increasing—ever-higher levels of carbon dioxide in the air are causing a boom in the toxic plants), rub on IvyBlock before you go outside.