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How to Treat Poison Ivy

Most of the time poison ivy can be safely treated at home, but there are some situations when you will need to seek urgent medical careAccording to the American Skin Association, about 85% of people in the United States are allergic to poison ivy, and about 10-15% are extremely allergic, which means their reactions are more severe and perhaps life-threatening. 

If you do come in contact with poison ivy, it’s important to wash the area completely with rubbing alcohol followed by mild soap and water to completely remove the urushiol residue (oily liquid or sap located on the leaves of poison ivy). Urushiol is the main culprit of an allergic reaction, so it’s important to remove as much as possible within 10 minutes of contact to reduce the severity of the reaction.

However, if you unknowingly come in contact with poison ivy, or are unable to clean the area quickly, you may experience a larger or more severe reaction, which puts you at a higher risk of infection. If this happens to you, it’s important to have a medical provider examine your poison ivy; urgent and primary care facilities are equipped to manage and treat allergic reactions safely and quickly.

When to Seek Treatment

If you experience one or more severe allergic reactions, go to the nearest urgent care facility:

  • Severe swelling or widespread rash 
  • Swelling of the lips and tongue
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • The rash covers your face, lips, eyes, mouth or genitals
  • The rash covers more than a quarter of your body’s surface
  • A fever of 100 F
  • A rash that lasts longer than two weeks
  • At-home treatments do not relieve the rash or itch

If you’re experiencing a severe reaction to poison ivy, urgent care should be your next stop.

An urgent care provider can prescribe treatment to help you feel better fast. Exemplar Care’s West Des Moines Office is open 24/7.

If you need to be seen at our urgent care, check wait times and

Schedule an appointment here >

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