September 10, 2013 | Posted in Skin / Hair / Nails

Contact dermatitis results when the skin comes in contact with a substance it is sensitive to, and a rash results.

Poison ivy and poison oak cause contact dermatitis in many people who have more reactive immune systems.


The rash is often a red streak which develops into a string of itchy bumps then blisters, then scabs. It may spread for about a week, then stabilize for about a week, then resolve in the third week. It has been said that no matter what one does, the poison ivy/oak rash is a 3-week experience. Commonly oral steroids are used to suppress the outbreak, sometimes accompanied by topical steroids.

Fels Naphtha yellow laundry bar soap should be used at the earliest opportunity to wash off the remaining oils, and limit any spread. Excessive use may irritate the skin due to the soap itself.

Sunshine aggravates the poison ivy/oak rash, and should be avoided.

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Boiled blackberry root poultice applied to the rash is a folk treatment.

Jewelweed grows nearby to poison ivy, a signature of its ready help. It can be made into a poultice with an aloe vera gel base or is available for purchase as a gel:

Uriel Jewelweed Gel for adults apply to affected area as needed for relief.

Itching can be intense and swelling will accompany blistering at the peak of the rash in some cases. Using a variety of anti-itch remedies is helpful.   Use each repeatedly, and take turns. Keeping products in the refrigerator adds to the anti-itch effect. Refrigeration is not required for the shelf life.

Calamine lotion, Aveeno products (lotion, bath for immersion if rash is widespread), Uriel Arnica Nettle Gel or Spray for adults apply frequently to the itchy area.

Avena Botanicals also makes a topical Itch Ease Spray which can be applied as often as is needed.

A treatment with very hot water can be used with caution, as long as the rash is accessible to immersion, for example on a foot or arm. The foot or arm is immersed in a dishpan of hot water, repeatedly. This draws histamine to the rash. The rash feels more itchy, but after going through a stage of super-itch, the histamines are depleted, and it takes time for them to re-accumulate. A period of welcome relief ensues. In the early stages of the rash, the hot soaks must be done more frequently, and as the rash runs its course, they will be needed at intervals further and further apart.

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Inflammation of eyes is medically urgent. Please go to your primary care doctor or urgent care center.

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