Kristi King, WTOP Radio
WASHINGTON - Summertime brings with it the threat of poison ivy, even if you don't spend a lot of time
You can get poison ivy if you come in contact with the clothing of someone who has been exposed, such
as a golfer or a hiker. Or, you can get the rash from a pet that has been exposed.
"Once your skin touches the clothing, you can develop the rash of poison ivy," says Dr. Lynn McKinley-Grant,
a dermatologist at Washington Hospital Center.
"Your pets will go outside and roll around in poison ivy, and they will come back inside and you will
pet them. We see people coming in with blisters on their hands, or the dog sleeps with them and they have rashes on their
The American Academy of Dermatology says about 85 percent of the population will develop an allergic
reaction if exposed to poison ivy, oak or sumac.
McKinley-Grant says if you know you're allergic, you may want to put on a topical cream to block the
oils in poison ivy.
"They bind the oils to the cream and then it just washes off without getting to your skin," she says.
"You have to remember that each exposure gets worse. If you are exposed once, you might get a little
rash. The next time you get more of a rash. The next time you get a blistering rash."
If you've been out and know you've been exposed, you can reduce the likelihood of spreading poison
"If you can immediately wash it off, it's very helpful," McKinley-Grant says. "Wash the local area
first. Wash and rinse."
She says then you can use an over-the-counter topical hydrocortisone, but warns a lot of people are
allergic to topical products, such as Benadryl and Lanacane. Other poison ivy sufferers recommend Tecnu, a product that removes the oils from the skin, or Domeboro, which is an astringent that helps soothe the inflammation.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, a number of over-the-counter products may help dry up the blisters:
- aluminum acetate (Burrows solution)
- baking soda
- Aveeno (oatmeal bath)
- aluminum hydroxide gel
- zinc acetate
- zinc carbonate
- zinc oxide