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Q: Can I self-treat poison ivy?

Posted June 19, 2013 in Advice Column, Downtown

A: Most cases of poison ivy rash can be self-treated, and the rash goes away on its own within two to four weeks. You can self-treat with remedies such as oatmeal baths, cool compresses and over-the-counter anti-itch medications. However, you need to see a doctor if the rash covers a large part of your body and if you have large blisters, swelling or cannot sleep.

Self-treatment options to help relieve the redness and itching:

• Calamine lotion. This is a skin protectant and works by soothing and protecting the skin. It can be applied as often as needed and is typically used three to four times daily.

• Cool compresses. Cool wet compresses can be applied for 15 to 30 minutes several times daily.

• Hydrocortisone. This is a topical steroid that will help reduce the inflammation from the rash. It can be applied two to four times daily. This should not be used on the face and genitals.

• Oatmeal baths. Soaking in a cool-water tub with colloidal oatmeal (Aveeno) or baking soda.

• Zanfelâ. This is the only product that is know to remove urushiol from the skin after bonding which can help the affected area begin healing. Urushiol is the oil contained within the poison ivy plant that is responsible for the rash. Zanfelâ can be used at any time after exposure, and it can be applied topically to any body part including the face and genitals.

Information provided by Hammer Pharmacy, 600 E. Grand Ave., East Village, 243-4177.

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