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Poison ivy is a plant that can cause rashes and itching in a person who comes into contact with its leaves. While it takes a while for poison ivy to run its course and leave the body, there are several ways to alleviate the itching and speed up the healing process. The first step to take after coming in contact with poison ivy is to wash all objects and body parts that came in contact with the plant. This is because the itching is caused by the urushiol oil within the plant. This oil can last on objects and continue to be spread long after contact has been made.
If the itching is unbearable, running the affected area beneath very hot water can help bring relief, though it will briefly feel worse at first. Within a few hours after exposure to the plant, it is helpful to rub alcohol all over the area of the skin that came in contact with the plant. After thoroughly washing the area with alcohol, it should then be washed with water. Alcohol is beneficial because it helps draw out the urushiol oil before it has time to settle in the skin and cause a rash to develop.
After blisters form, they should be covered with sterile gauze in order to prevent infection. It is also helpful to rub aloe vera juice on the affected area first, as it will help stop the itching and prevent blistering. Aloe vera can be applied to the rash every two hours.
Apple cider vinegar can also help reduce itching from poison ivy rashes. It should be mixed with one part water and one part alcohol, then dabbed on to the rash and allowed to dry. This concoction can be reapplied to the rash as often as necessary.
A baking soda mixture can also be beneficial. Mix one tablespoon of baking soda with one cup of water and mix until the baking soda has dissolved. Then, wash the poison ivy rash with the mixture or let it sit on the affected area. Baking soda is good at drying out the blisters and drawing out infection.
One way I noticed some relief from the itching was by putting cool, wet washcloth on the rash. It would temporarily help the itching and somewhat reduce the redness. I have read, but not tried myself, that taking a hot bath before bedtime will help reduce the itching for up to 8 hours. The water should be as hot as one is able to bear.