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Is Poison Ivy Remedy Too Risky?

Q. You wrote about using hot water to relieve the itching from poison ivy. I too have found that very hot water relieved the itch.

However, my doctor told me it was one of the worst things I could do. We initially catch poison ivy from contact with the plant, but he said it spreads through our blood stream. Since hot water increases blood circulation, it will also speed the spread of poison ivy.

A. Dermatologists disagree with your doctor. They state unequivocally that a poison ivy rash results from skin exposure to urushiol, the sticky irritating oil from poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. Because there is no evidence that poison ivy spreads through the blood stream, using hot water (not so hot that it burns) to ease the itch should not make a mild case worse.

Other readers report that applying milk of magnesia to the rash also soothes the itch: “I used to get poison ivy all over after clearing the weeds and grass from my mowers in the Texas winds. I had to go to the doctor for a steroid shot to clear it up.

One weekend, out of desperation, I first wiped all the rashes down with rubbing alcohol and then rubbed milk of magnesia all over them. It worked much better than calamine lotion. The rash stopped weeping and spreading, and best of all, the itching stopped too! It all cleared up quickly.”

6/10/19 redirected to: https://www.peoplespharmacy.com/articles/what-can-you-do-about-poison-ivy/

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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