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What's the best way to treat poison oak and poison ivy?

American Pharmacists Association

This is a great question. Every summer I get asked about poison ivy and poison oak, because everyone goes outside. A lot of gardeners end up with it. And people don't realize that pets can actually carry the oils from poison ivy and poison oak in their fur. So when you pat your dog that has been outside, the oils may transfer.

The first thing you want to do is apply a cool compress to the affected area. You don't want to scratch it, because the bacteria in your fingernails can get into your skin and cause an infection.

You also want to try drying up the oils as quickly as possible. There are products on the market like Ivy Dry, Tecnu, and Zanfel which are actually soaps that bind to those oils so you can wash them away. This can help promote healing and dry the affected area.

If you notice that the area is starting to get red, you are running a fever, it's spreading, or if the rash appears on your face and your eyes, you want to go to a doctor right away. You will probably need prescription medication to help slow down the reaction.