Archive for Thursday, May 31, 2007

Quick action mitigates effects of poison ivy

May 31, 2007

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A hike through the countryside, forest or even a park can provide both exercise and stress relief. It's important, though, not to zone out completely when walking, especially if poison ivy, oak or sumac lies in your path.

The active ingredient in poison ivy, urushiol, can penetrate your skin within minutes. When this occurs, certain cleansing measures, if taken quickly, can reduce or even stop the itch and discomfort of poison ivy. Cleansing may not stop the initial rash if more than 10 minutes has elapsed, but it may help prevent further spread.

Here are some key steps you should attempt to follow when exposed to poison ivy, oak or sumac:

¢ Cleanse the exposed skin while you're still outdoors with generous amounts of rubbing alcohol and wash with water. The alcohol removes your skin's protection along with the urushiol.

¢ Take a shower with soap and warm water as soon as you return home or to wherever you're staying if you're on vacation.

¢ Wipe down all parts of clothing, shoes and anything else that may come in contact with the poison ivy with alcohol and water. Wear gloves or cover your hands while performing this task, and then dispose of the hand covering.

Source: Food and Drug Administration

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