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Category Archives: Poison Oak

As summer starts to show itself we head outside to get some fresh air. Many of us venture out onto our property to clean up debris and plant gardens. Others hit the golf course or the hiking trails. While these outdoor adventures bring colour to our cheeks, they can also lead to some unwanted colour. Red.

Poison Oak and Poison Ivy are prevalent in the Niagara Region and their effects can be uncomfortable and persistent. The skin becomes itchy and red. Bumps and blisters that ooze may also develop and symptoms can last up to three or four weeks after the last contact. 

The best way to prevent any problems is to wear lightweight clothing that can protect your skin. If you think you may have come into contact wash the area immediately. It is an oily resin that causes the rash and it can spread from one spot to another. However, if you do run in to a problem there is some over the counter and prescription remedies that can provide fast relief. 

The most commonly used product is 0.5% hydrocortisone cream. Ask the pharmacist for it because the product is located behind the counter. This is a very mild steroid cream that will help calm the red itchiness you may be experiencing. If you put the cream in the fridge it will be cold when you apply it and this will provide some soothing relief. Cold compresses can also be applied to the skin to relieve itching. Calamine, Benadryl, and Caladryl (a combination of the two), are other over the counter remedies. These do not contain a steroid and can be quite messy. However, people do find relief with these treatments. Colloidol oatmeal baths such as Aveeno, can also be used. Care needs to be taken with this product as it makes bathtubs very slippery. Cooler water should be used when bathing as hot conditions can make the itching worse.

Oral antihistamines such as Benadryl may be tried. This product can help but should only be used at bedtime because it leads to drowsiness. Non-drowsy antihistamines like Claritin and Reactine are effective for seasonal allergies but not Poison Ivy and Poison Oak. A prescription antihistamine that can be tried is Atarax. This product, like Benadryl can lead to drowsiness. 

Prescription prednisone may be prescribed by physicians to get the redness and inflammation under control. Usually this is a short course of therapy and the long term negative effects of steroids are not a concern. 

Hopefully you will not have any misadventures with these pesky vines. If you do find yourself suffering from their effects, head down to the store for a safe and effective remedy that will help you to enjoy the rest of your summer.