ZocdocAnswersPoison Ivy - How do you treat a child who's come into contact with poison ivy?

Question

Poison Ivy - How do you treat a child who's come into contact with poison ivy?

What's the best treatment for poison ivy on a child? My 6 year old has a poison ivy rash all over his legs. My husband says he always used rubbing alcohol as a kid, but that seems like it would be really painful. Is there a safe, natural, and / or ouchless way to take care of this?

Answer

The rash caused by exposure to Poison Ivy is an allergic reaction to the chemicals within the plant. The first part of a successful treatment involves decontamination of any articles of clothing that may have been exposed to the plants. The chemicals on the plants can bind to clothing and can perpetuate a rash in the early stages if the skin is re-exposed to these areas of clothing. Symptomatic relief for a rash that has already developed includes a variety of treatments, ranging from topical applications to oral medications. Typically calamine lotion or oatmeal baths can provide a soothing effect that may help curb pain and itching. For severe itching that is not relieved with these measures, oral medications such as Benadryl and Hydroxyzine can be helpful. For rashes of moderate severity, high-potency steroid creams may aid in speeding up the healing process. For severe rashes, your physician may choose to prescribe oral steroids (i.e. Prednisone) which are often given as a tapered course lasting up to two weeks. Rubbing alcohol should be avoided as this can be painful to apply and dry out the skin on which it is placed.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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