Antihistamine pills are used to relieve
the symptoms of the rash from
poison ivy, oak, or sumac. Prescription medicines,
such as corticosteroids, may be used for severe rashes. Medicines are also used
to make the rash less severe.
Antihistamine pills can help
relieve itching and dry blisters. Examples include
Benadryl (diphenhydramine), which is an over-the-counter
medicine, and Vistaril (hydroxyzine), which you get by
Corticosteroids may be used to treat a moderate
or severe rash. Corticosteroids may be given as pills, products that are spread on the skin (creams, ointments, gels), or shots.
Barrier creams and lotions help prevent the plant oil
(urushiol) from coming in contact with the skin or reduce the severity of a
reaction. These creams vary in their potency and are not always
You may be able to use a product that dissolves
urushiol, such as Tecnu or Zanfel. These products are used to wash the oil off your skin or other objects. They may reduce the severity of a reaction or prevent one.
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symptoms of all kinds.
The most common
complication of poison ivy, oak, or sumac rash is a secondary
infection, usually caused by scratching. When this
occurs, your doctor will probably prescribe a type of topical
antibiotic cream if the infection is in a small area.
Otherwise, you may need systemic antibiotics, given as pills or
What To Think About
The following medicines should
not be used for poison ivy, oak, or sumac rash, because they can cause allergy
problems of their own:
Antihistamines applied to the skin, such as diphenhydramine (found in Benadryl cream,
spray, or gel).
Anesthetics applied to the skin
containing benzocaine (such as Lanacane).
Antibiotics containing neomycin (such as
Neosporin or Poly-Pred).