IU Health Starke Hospital Doctor Urges Caution Against Poison Ivy

Be careful about that friendly puppy you pet, the purring cat you stroke, or anyone who wants to shake your hand after coming inside from a walk in the woods. You could be in for a case of poison ivy if you come in contact with pets, people, or your own touching of the plant.

Dr. Almuhannad Alfrhan at I.U. Health-Starke Hospital explained that there are some creams that can prevent getting poison ivy rash.

“There are some topical creams that help in prevention. They are only partially effective though, and they need to be applied every three hours to have a reasonable response,” Alfrhan said.

Poison ivy afflicts 55 million Americans each year. For severe cases, a trip to the doctor is necessary for a cortisone shot. Smoke from burning poison ivy can affect your lungs and cover your face and lungs. Fortunately, itching skin can be soothed with calamine lotion.

Alfrhan explained what to do if you realize you have been in contact with poison ivy.

“Take your clothes off that were in direct contact, and wash the skin. You will need to do this within ten minutes to give yourself a chance of not being affected,” he said.

When you rinse an exposed area, use cold water as hot water can open your pores and let the bad oil in. Finally, remember to wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants while in the woods or gardening.

Alfran said some people don’t develop the rash right away.

“That’s the tricky part,” Alfran noted. “Most people don’t develop the reaction immediately afterwords. Some people will take a few days to three weeks before it develops. It’s really hard to connect the dots to know where you got the exposure from.”