Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Information Center

Prescription / Medical

Signs of an Emergency
About 15 percent of the 120 million Americans who are allergic to poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac are so highly sensitive that they break out in a rash and begin to swell in 4 to 12 hours instead of the normal 24 to 48. Their eyes may swell shut and blisters may erupt on their skin. This is one of the few true emergencies in dermatolgy says William L. Epstein, MD. Get to a hosipital as soon as possible. A shot of corticosteroids will bring the swelling down.

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Experiences with Steroids

After experiencing several outbreaks of poison ivy, I would recommend going to the Doctor. if the "at home" treatment does not help in 2 or 3 days. I scratched a poison ivy site after doing a lot of yard work and got an infection at the site of the outbreak (this was before I realized what I had). The Dr. gave me a steroid shot and a prescription cream called Diprolene AF, along with an an tibiotic cream to treat the infection and I started seeing improvement within 24 hours. The Benedryl was also very helpful in controlling the itch, and there i s an anti itch cream over the counter called "Itch-X" that worked better than an y other OTC product that I tried.
-- Dee ([email protected]) submitted 13/Mar/2001

I have poison ivy, sumac and oak in my back yard. Four weeks ago I got the black sap on my skin in 4 places. During this 4 week stint, I have had two shots and a round of Pregnezone. I never had blisters but have been itching mi serably. I look normal now but am still itching. I would love to know how to t reat this now. It seems that it is in my blood if that is possible. I would be so grateful for some advice. Thank you very much for your time.
--Wendy Barrett ([email protected]) submitted 13/Sep/2000

I have always gotten posion ivy but it was always t reatable by OTC drugs. This time my whole body is covered with poison ivy. So i called my doctor up and he gave me Prednisone. They are steroids. They help so much I can't believe it. I took it in the morning and at night I was feeling bet ter and the poison was already drying up. Ask your doctor about that! And he asl o gave me Zyrtec to relieve the itching and that works like a dream also. So i y ou have any questions about these like side effects and how many pills please fe el free to E-Mail me.
-- Matt ([email protected]) submitted 31/Aug/2000

I have had poison ivy for 2 weeks now. I had the raised, red skin with blisters and the miserable itching. I went to 3 doctors. First, I saw a physician assistant and she gave me samples of prescription diprolene AF-the most strongest, potent steroid cream that a doctor can give. It worked okay but I could only apply it once a day. It was so potent that if I applied it more that once, then I could have scarring. She also gave me samples of claritin 10 mg for the itching. It worked at first, then nothing helped. I saw my Primary Care and he said the same thing...poisin ivy. Unfortunatly, he said he couldn't give me anything stronger than what the PA gave me. Then, my sister thought I was allergic to dill weed, so she referred me to her allergist. He again said the same thing...poison ivy!!! But he gave a prescription for Prednison, an oral steroid. That has seemed to help the fasted with the healing process. However, it does a number on your bowel movements! So far, I found that the best over the counter itch reliever is spray Cahladril (is that how it's spelled?). It was this burst of itch relief that was very cold! It felt great!!!
-- ([email protected]) submitted Jul/14/1999
Editor note: I wish you had found zanfel like I had after trying everything else for some relief. I am sorry to hear of all the suffering that you went through. Glad you found Cahladril.

A local doctor has prescribed prednisone, which is a steroid, as a cur e for my poison ivy. I have only been on it for 36 hours, and have not noticed any positive effect yet, but I'll keep you posted.
-- ([email protected]) submitted Apr/28/2000

I just am about over a bout of poison ivy that started 3 weeks ago. I had not had it in over 27 years and I am usually very careful, but someone else was pulling weeds and I was bagging and not paying attention to what I was picking up. Within 3 days I broke out and I looked just awful with large scaly patches and blisters with oozing. My abdomen started to swell and my skin looked like a cow with pink spots instead of black! I tried creams, calamine lotion, but nothing was helping. I finally called the doc and he prescribed prednisone. After one day I noticed a big difference. I have been on the prednisone for over a week and the itching is just about over. The scars are starting to heal and I feel terrific! So for me, prednisone was the answer. I have had no side effects. Lorraine from Pittsburgh
--"Lorraine Petruska" ([email protected]) submitted 30/Jun/2001

I am 41 years old and never had poisen oak, or ivy or even sumac in my life. I am an active gardener, and had been cutting down, pulling out the noxious plant for years, but this time it got me in the left leg where it has spread uncontrollably. I must say that this is the most annoying problem I've gotten. I had it for 1 week and none of the over the counter remedies helped to get rid of the itching or spreading. I've not itched one sore since I got it and it's still spread. I went to an physician which gave me Prednisone which I hope will work, but it's side effects are nothing to brag about. I already have insomina which has been intensified, and anxiety which this medication has certainly greatened. I won't judge it thoughly yet, since I've been on it only 3 days, and my feeling is, if it gets rid of this lousy poison oak, I'll gladly suffer the consequences. The only thing that has really helped with this unbearable itching is the 2 tsp. baking soda to 1 tsp.
-- Holly ([email protected]) submitted 17/May/2001

Thank you for your great site. It has educated me as to what I am up against and I am amaized as to how potent pi is. My poor body exhibits all stages, it seems, starting with new little red spots not unlike insect bites, thru large (3/4") blisters, and some crusting. I could not locate Zanfel at the local Wallmart, but did find noxzima pads and Rhuli. The very hot showers are the best for instant relief, which I followed with Noxzima and Rhuli. After 5 days from contact, I feel somewhat like the phantom of the opera, as the rash has not stopped spreading. Since sat when I decided those little red spots I hosted on thursday were not insect bites, thru monday when I could see my Dr, (who put me on 2 perscriptions, "Hydroxyzine Pam 50 mg, and Deltasone 10 mg") am quite depressed. There is so much conflicting information... For instance, is it ok to lightly cover the ugly stuff and attend a public affair? To break or not to break those pesky blisters....is it contageous, if so when? We don't even know where I came in contact, therefore, cannot try to get rid of it. However, I do feel I have a support group going for me with your website. Can you give me some answers, Please? Thank You
[email protected] submitted 24/Jul/2001 Editor: Yes. No. No. Thanks.

Had never had poison ivy in my entire life. It was a week before I realized that's what I had. Needless to say, it developed into a "nasty" case, according to the dr. I had a 6 day pack of steroids along with benadryl and caladryl. Nothing helped. Then the dr. Gave me a steroid shot. That didn't help either. The itching was driving me crazy. I finally on Thanksgiving night drove to the Emergency Room where they gave me 4 different meds, a shot, Zantac (which reverses itself and is a histamine blocker used to treat ulcers), Hydroxyzine (an antihistamine to relieve itching and help you sleep). They gave me all this in the form of an iv, then gave me a prescription for oral meds once the iv wore off. Finally, I had some relief. I still have some scaly, rough patches on my skin, but the itching is almost gone and my face no longer has any on it. This was the most horrible thing I have ever gone through and I've gone thru some rough surgeries in my life. The dr. Said it just got out of hand and had to be hit very aggressively in order to stop it.
--"Barbara Campbell" ([email protected]) submitted 28/Nov/2001

Having suffered with at least one or two bad cases of poison ivy a year since I was little, I have tried every remedy and cure including airplane glue (the camp nurse swore by it) and injections in the 1950's. After trying every otc ointment and gel I usually see the doctor for a cortisone injection or a dose pack. One thing I have found - if I don't scratch it clears up faster. I control the itching with ice. I keep a supply of disposable ice packs that you would use in a cooler in the freezer and usually use them at night so I can sleep. It works.
--"Barbara J. Lawrence" ([email protected]) submitted 14/May/2002

We were painting our house the week of Oct 4. I pulled a vine that had grown up behind the wood strips on our house. I then saw the patch of poison ivy on the ground. Well, needless to say I got poison ivy on my arms, feet and legs. I have now been to the doctor a total of 3 times and it's getting worse.On the 8th he put me on Prednisone 20mg and it did not effect. I have one spot on my ankle that I got infected and an ulcer came up and it got red in a diamater of about 3-4 inches. On the 21st he gave me a cream called Bactroban 2% to put on it. Got worse instead of better. Went back on the 26th amd he changed the cream to a Betamethasone Dipropionate Ointment .05%. It seems to have helped the redness on my foot, but the area on my legs and arms are spreading. He also gave me a shot that day. I went back on the 30th and was put on a Dex Pack 1.5mg for 13 more days. I did not think poison would keep spreading after this length of time. I have not touched anything that I had on that day and all of my clothes have been washed and the gloves thrown away. I have not even been back on that side of the house. I can not sleep. I am taking Zyrtec 10mg,Diovan 80mg for blood pressure every day. In the past 4 days I have been taking Zanac at night to help me sleep. Not working, I wake up itching. I know the next step is going to the dermatologist. I have never had poison this long and I am going crazy. It is making me have bad mood swings. I'm hateful and I just want to climb the walls. Any home cures I can use at home, because the medicine they are giving seems to not be working,and I am getting very upset with them. I was one of those people who when I was little I could walk thru it and not get it. 28 years ago I was 8 months pregnant with our youngest son and our neighbor decided to burn his lot off. I was covered from held to toe and miserable. Now I get it all the time. I know smoke inhaling it is one of the worse ways you can get it.
--"Debbie Smith" ([email protected]) submitted 31/Oct/2002

I got poison ivy about 2 years ago for the first time in my life. Terrible experience. I had it on my eyelids and down my neck to the top of my legs. After 1 week on constant itching and pain I was put on Prednisone and benadryl. My poison ivy did not change much but I did get heart palpatations. After stopping treatment and then restarting I found that the prednisone treatments caused my poison ivy to go down, but increased my irratabilities and nerves. I found that I was very emotional and suffered 2 panic attacks within 1 month after the treatments. Another first for me. I would caution people to look out for large doses of steroids as I have read this kind of reaction is common.
--"Joe Manno" ([email protected]) submitted 30/Mar/2003

I can definitely relate to an unpleasant experience with prednisone. I've had poison ivy before, but never like the case I got a month ago that just won't go away. My regular doctor eventually prescribed prednisone, starting with 60mgs (to be taken once a day) and I immediately began to feel extremely weird - seeing and hearing things, feeling out of sorts, etc. This subsided as I stepped down to lower doses, but it was extremely unpleasant reaction. It did, though, help the allergic reaction

As I came off the prednisone, though, I broke out in hives and went to see a dermitologist. He suspected that I had a systemic case of poison ivy that was causing hives in other, unexposed parts of my body. I received a steriocortisoid? Shot and more prednisone, but this time I was instructed to take my intial doses of 60mg over 3xs a day - 20mg in the morning, noon and night. Same with the subsequent 40mg doses - but twice a day.

This definitely minimized the earlier side effects - not completely, but significanlty nonetheless. I realize that there could be side effects from this that may be unrelated to the dose schedue, but I thought I'd pass this on should anyone want to ask their physician about this possibility.
--Brian Paradine ([email protected]) submitted 1/May/2003

First of all, this site was a source of enlightenment for me when I finally contracted Poison Ivy for the first time in my 52 years. After pulling down a large vine from my neighbors home I went about my normal business of mowing my yard. I didn't know it was Poison Ivy. Now I do. Approximately 48 hours later, I awoke literally clawing the blood from my forarms. I had developed a sever case. Talk about miserable! A trip to the doctor in the morning netted me a Decadron shot as well as a prescription for Zyrtec. After 5 days my arms still had swelling and major discomfort. I went back and was given a prescription for Methylprednisolone 4 mg. I've read about the "mood swings" others have had from this oral steriod but for some reason, it doesn't affect me in the same way. I noticed no changes in my mood. It did help though. After the first day and the first 6 tablets I noticed that the "angryness" from the whelps seemed to be subsiding. That along with the Triamcinolone creme (another steroid) applied eliminated 98% of the itch. That alone was well worth the price of the medicine. I might also mention that using a Betadine solution (available anywhere) prior to bathing in the evening seems to add some help as well. On that I offer no clinical yes or no. Creams like Cortizone 10 with Aloe did absolutely nothing for me. Today it been exactly one week and the whelps are just not starting to lose some of the redness. A agree with those that use the hot water spray on the afflicted areas. That actually does work! It can almost save your sanity!
--"Michael Chesney" ([email protected]) submitted 3/May/2003

An update on the use of Methylprednisolone 4 mg and Triamcinolone Acetonide Creme I received these prescriptions for Methylprednisolone 4 mg dospak and Zyrtec on my second visit to the physician, 7 days after exposure to Poison Ivy. They said, "you're the poison ivy guy!" I was swelling with angry red whelps covering my forarms. Trust me on this...go to the doctor. Get a prescription! The at home remedys did nothing for me. After starting the Methylprednisolone and the Triamcinolone Acetonide Creme (you must get a prescription for this steroid creme) on Friday, today is Monday and the whelps are rapidly disappearing. This works!! I can't believe it either but it's true. I've read all the warnings about the "mood swings" and behavior changes but I have experienced absolutely none of that. Could be that I've had the Methylprednisolone several times before and have developed a tolerance for it. I feel no changes in my moods whatsoever. The results are almost unbelievable. I had it so bad on my forarms I thought I'd need skin grafts or something! The nagging itch is almost completely gone. I barely even notice it now. That may be due to the Triamcinolone Acetonide Creme though. Please, ask your doctor about these two steroids. They are rapidly curing me! I hope this helps you because, believe me, I know how you feel. Feel free to email me if you'd like more information.
--"Michael Chesney" ([email protected]) submitted 5/May/2003


Cortizone Injection

I get poison ivy every year. last year i got it on my face, that my eyes swelled shut completly. well, i got it again this year. i have atrip coming up in 6 days.(to go see my boyfriend). i have gone to the doctors and she gave me hydrocortisone val 0.2% crm 15GM. i have poison ivy inbetween my fingers on my face, eyelids on my ear, on the back of my neck, etc etc etc. I am extreamly scared my eye lids will close again.o ya, an I have it on my scalp. please help me with my problem. tongiht I'm going to try the bleach remedy, thankx, please help asap
[email protected] submitted 7/Sep/2000

Recently, I was exposed to poison oak for an extended period of time (off & on for about 5 hours) because of my ignorance about the plant. My daughter and son-in-law had a much smaller exposure. Their symptoms surfaced within three days. My symptoms showed up on the 8th day. Within 24 hours of noticing the outbreak, my shins, which had gotten the bulk of the exposure, were festering and oozing with puss. The doctor put me on Prednisone and Benedryl (sp?). The areas that were festering seemed to need to run their course. He also gave me some type of ointment, but I don't know if it even helped. The new spots which continued to appear for many days did not fester. I believe the prescription that the doctor gave me made the difference. I was terribly itchy and uncomfortable for an extended period of time, but I had an extended exposure to the poison oak. It took about 18 days before I saw serious improvement in my comfort levels, which was puzzling to the doc! or, but, when I think back, it makes sense. My advise to those who have a serious case of poison oak or ivy, try all of the remedies you like, but absolutely start with the prednisone & anti-itch Benedryl. I believe that many of the good results from many of the home remedies are coincidental with the phase of the poison ivy Good luck.
-- Hank Noel ([email protected]) Jun/22/2000

I had a severe case of either poison ivy or poison sumac (thanks to my = dad wanting me to climb a tree for foxgrapes...long story), anyways I = had just about my whole body covered in blisters. The only remedy was a = cortizone injection. Within a week the pain and itch was gone. = Needless to say I will never climb a tree for grapes again. My children = have had mild cases and Benedryl creme is a good one to use. Apparently = it can be used even on the sensitive areas as well. Hope this helps out = in any case. Just stay out of trees!!!
-- Kim ([email protected]) Aug/25/1999

A doctor prescribed Prednesone for me. It is a sterriod and speeds up the process of the rash drying it out faster.
-- Anonymous ([email protected]) Apr/05/2000

I got probably the worst case of poison oak in recorded history while in california last month. I have had poison ivy before, but it was nothing like this. I fell into a ravine full of poison oak bushes while biking. The branch es scratched me and the toxins got into my blood stream. For about 2 weeks, my legs were swollen to twice their original size. The sores were oozing all over my legs and i couldn't walk for over a week because my knees and feet were too swollen. I received a shot of benadryl and cortisone to start off with. I was prescribed prednisone, allegra and took benadryl and oatmeal baths... I bathed in 2 cups of bleach in a tub of water and that immediately cleared up the oozing. none of the creams or lotions helped at all. It has been over 3 weeks now since exposure and I still have scars, dry skin, and a few random red dots. It has been the worst experience of my life!!! I have yet to see any pictures on line that even came close to what I had...they don't have this stuff here in brooklyn!!!
-- Fank Gnutson ([email protected]) 13/Feb/2001
Editor: I am very sorry. Misery loves company! Please see the following link for other terrible pictures of rashes.

Zanfel! I'm in (hopefully) the late stages of my first poison ivy attack. I've been an outdoor sort of person for 15 years,so I suspect I either 'became sensitive' or got a very highdose. Zanfel didn't clear it up. The directions say to rub it in until the itching stops, but in my case the itching never went away - it would stop in an area, I'd start rubbing somewhere else, and it would return. I do believe it helped some. After trying it for 3 days, I went to an MD, who gave me cortisone pills and a shot(plus anti-biotics - one leg was/is infected). That seems to have done the trick; the rash was largely gone in 3 days,leaving reddish flaking skin, which is in turn healing. The leg still appears to be infected, but much less so than before.So, I can't heap praise on it. I'll probably give it another try if I get exposed again, but only for small exposures.
P.S. I don't think the infection was from scratching. Good Luck! Horkan
--"Horkan Smith" ([email protected]) submitted 17/Jul/2001

Thanks for the informative website. I just got poison ivy and found my savior in a steroid shot. Keep up the good work... Sc
--"Marion Carpenter" ([email protected]) submitted 9/Aug/2001



I have a mild case in both insides of my knees so that sleeping is a problem. My md rx'd Benedryl orally and a steroid cream called Ultravate which is halobetasol propionate cream 0.05%. It is used 2 times daily and seems to really helped the rash. it is red only but no oozing (i got rx 3 days after first breakout). the itch has diminished greatly. however, i am still spreading a little, maybe from the oil still on my skin before i started using the cream. Caladryl clear was also a great help in relieving the itch. my biggest problem was in how to sleep without my knees touching each other!(I cut the legs off some old leggings and wore them only to sleep in).
--Jane (anonymous email) submitted Jun/8/2000


Misc Options

What seems to be working now, as suggested by a pharmacist is the following. Take benedryl orally to relieve some (but not all) of the itching. Very lightly scrub the affected areas with a mild soap to pop the blisters (no specific soap or temperature recommended) and pat dry with a clean towel. Then, apply a 1.0% hydrocortisone cream (such as Cortaid) to the affected area to reduce the swelling and relieve some of the itching. After allowing the cream to dry completely for about 15 minutes, then apply straight calamine lotion as often as necessary to dry the oozing. Wash and apply the hydrocortisone cream 3 to 4 times daily. It is very improtant to apply the cream underneath the calamine lotion because the cream will not penetrate the lotion. So far so good. Obviously, severe or continuing (5+ days without improvement) cases should be referred to a dermatologist.
--Karl Kessenich submitted 03/Aug/2000

For poison ivy relief try- Clobetasol prop oint 0.05% 2 times/day on affected area. Keep body cool i.e. no perspiration. 2 tablets per day Allegra 60 mg.
--"R. Small" ([email protected]) submitted 12/Aug/2000

I have made a few observations that suggest a possible very easy method for avoiding the poison ivy rash. I would like to here if any of this jives with the experiences of others. I've described these observations below as concisely as I can. As soon as I get into the details, the story gets ten times longer:

1) There have been times over the last couple of years when
 I was fairly certain that I should have gotten the poison
 ivy rash, but some how lucked out.

2) I inadvertently (and unknowingly at the time) contacted
 the poison ivy plant late Sunday afternoon and have not
 come in contact with the oil since then.  I contracted
 the rash - but with two differences: 1) I usually get it
 on the sides of my fingers, but didn't this time even
 though the rash pattern around my eyes is clearly from
 rubbing with the sides of my index finger(s). And: 2) I
 usually come down with symtoms within a couple of hours
 but this time it took until late Monday night - it has
 never taken 26+ hours.
So what is going on? I have a suspicion. I am on a prescription for Seldane on an "as needed" basis. Seldane is an antihistamine that I take for my several allergies to airborne allergens (pollen, mold, cat dander, etc). I have been taking it quite extensively the last couple of summers - perhaps during the times when I should have contracted the rash. More telling is that I was taking it this weekend but let it run out Monday. If taking an antihistamine before and for several days after contacting poison ivy keeps the rash away - this would be super perfect. Do you have any information that would support or refute this as an effective strategy? If not, would you use your website to solicit such information?
Thanks and a scratch from, Scott R. Bowden
--"Scott R. Bowden" ([email protected]) submitted 26/Jul/2000
Editor: I have noticed the samething during the spring when I am taking alergy medication for 2 weeks. Hmm you have me thinking!



Icthammol 10% by United Research Labs - an over the counter medication but you have to ask your pharmacists for it. It is a "drawing" salve and will draw out the poison... it will draw out anything... like spider bites etc. I put it on in desparation after 8 days of suffering... after 3 applicatio ns in 24 hours, it was all gone. I decided to use this after reading all the ot her remedies on this sight. It educated me in the fact that there was actually poison residing in my skin.
-- Beth submitted 4/Sep/2000



The bleach thing must be a hit or miss kind of thing - my boyfriend swears by it. We always get it togteher. He scratches till he's opened the blisters and rubs the bleach on the affected areas. Within a fews days he's all dried up. I tried the same thing last year - nothing. My hands which got it first and spread it all over swelled up and would not stop oozing. I made mittens out of gauze so I could sleep at night and not worry about spreading it any further than I already had. I finally went to the doctor after the OTC's & the bleach didn't work. (Tried rubbing alcohol too - felt good for a while but no drying occurred.

The doctor gave me a cream - can't remember what - it was inaffective - back to the doctor after a couple of days for a more potent remedy. Prednzone and a cream with steroids in it too. It worked great. I can't miss work for a week this time - my boss didn't want me any where near the office. So I turned to the internet for home cure! of somethings or things in combination that I can concoct to help as funds are low and payday is tommorrow. I need help now so I can go to work tomorrow. I have Palmolive and it has been mentioned several times in this feedback forum. I have it on now while I viewed the rest of the suggestions. So far so good. do I have to sandblast my keyboard now??? !!!!
-- jana hilton ([email protected]) submitted 15/Jun/2001

Thanks for all the information. I currently am dealing with a fairly extreme case of Poison Sumac(eastern Missouri). As of yesterday 95% of my body externally(my esophogas & ears internally) were affected. I had large 1/4 inch high bright pink-red whelps all over including scalp. I went to the Dr. Today. I've been currently taking Prednisone for 18 hours along with Keflex. My body now has a pinkish tone to it where the whelps were. Almost no itching & only slight tenderness. I also found that 2 or 3 "Aveeno"($7.00 For 8 baths worth) baths a day for 20 minutes or so helps. I'm also using "Benadryl- Extra Strength Itch Stopping Cream"($4.00 For 1 oz.) instead of spray or calamine lotion...the cream seems to last much longer. The best soap I've found for cleaning w/o spreading is a basic oatmeal soap(available at most health food stores-prices vary) I've changed my sheets everynight so far & sleep in cotton gloves to help stop spreading the Sumac as it is on my hands! Also. It's best also to aviod lotions especially rich lotions they tend to aggravate the whelps & sores, it also seems to make it drastically difficult to drain or dry out the sores. Anyway happy healing all. Does anyone know how to get rid of Sumac from furniture/unwashable items? Does "Lysol Disinfecting Spray" work? --Corey
--"Corey" ([email protected]) submitted 20/Nov/2001
Editor: soap and water will remove the oil from furniture. Murphy's oil soap for wood for example.

I have had poison ivy/sumac for 3 years in a row now. The first time, I had prednisone prescibed. After 2 days I had gained 12 lbs in water weight, and my rash was worse. I was referred to a different doctor, who prescribed a stronger dose of prednisone. After 10 days, my rash was finally gone, but I was looney from so much prednisone. Last year I got poison ivy and they gave me the shot. It was gone in 2 days. I got it again this year, got the shot and here it is 10 days later, and I have poison ivy all over the place. None of the prescription topicals work either. I've had them all. I've tried ivy dry, oatmeal baths, antihistamine tablets. I seem to be a rare case, but just wanted people to know they are not alone in their suffering.
--"Matt Barnett" ([email protected]) submitted 4/Dec/2001

I went to the walk in clinic yesterday and the doctor told me I have poison ivy and he has given me elocom cream, novoprednisone and aerius. The patch is on my leg and up until that time was spreading alittle. However, it is not itchy at all. Has anyone ever heard of poison ivy not being itchy?
--"Ginny" ([email protected]) submitted 4/Jul/2002
Editor: Never. I always thought that one of the true symptoms of the rash was an uncontrollable rash. Any others heard of a poison ivy rash that doesn't itch?

I have had poison ivy for 6 weeks now. Have taken the Predisone tablets used the Cutivate cream and still had poison ivy bad. Went back to Doctor, took a high power steroid shot. Still had poison ivy. Hot water took away the itch, but in my opinion it pushed the poison further into me. I was breaking out other places. Sometimes you could feel a little row of bumps further under your skin. Yes hot water takes away the itch, but in my case I think I have made my own problem worse. I think that one should think twice about using hot water.
--"Mike Allen" ([email protected]) submitted 12/Sep/2002
Editor: Goto to this site for information about prednisone.

I got poision ivy while working outside during the spring of last year. I tried everything imaginable, but nothing worked. I tried creams, lotions,baking soda baths, salt baths, but the poision ivy seemed to be getting worse. I then approached my mom and told her to take me to the doctors. The doctor gave me prednison ( steriod). I took it orally 3 times a day for a week. The next morning I started noticing major results. The rash dried up and got better and better everyday. Three days later it was almost all gone. I felt so much better the next day and I could even sleep at night. Dont try creams and other remedies, just go right to the doctor.
--"Mike Handley" ([email protected]) submitted 9/Oct/2002

I contracted poison oak the day after Thanksgiving. We went Christmas Tree Hunting. (Any tree $15, I knew there must have been a catch) The plants did not have any leaves on them at this time. I was short sleeved. It took about 48 hours for the first major rash to appear. I called the nurse and was told to use cortizone, calamine lotion,zyradryl, baking soda baths, benadryl cream,Benedryl pills but not at same time as cream......... The rash flamed up with blisters and then started to tame down. The next day I was covered with a milder rash all over my body. (I have been cleaning couches, car interior,jackets, shoes.....Luckily the tree is not at my house but at my sisters. I was told not to get near it and to have someone else open any gifts for me.....I Went to the doctor and I am now on Prednisone.......I Have been on it plus 2 benedryl 24/7 for 36 hours. My rash is slowly subsiding, but my hands and feet itch. My cure is to stand in the snow as long as I can tolerate it barefoot. It supposedly makes the blood vessels unswell and itching subsides for awhile.. When I was a child I use to get Cortizoroid shots....Apparently they don't want to give those anymore. It shuts down the adrenal glands. I have read others comments and I am going to give the Vitamin c Therapy, along with benedryl, prednizone. I use aloe vera with benazene in it. Also drinking aloe vera... I am so glad I don't live near poison oak. It does not grow above a certain elevation. I am at 4500ft. Merry Christmas!
--"D. MAY" (no email provided) submitted 19/Dec/2002
Editor: My wife, my 4 year old and I went to a new fresh cut christmas tree place this year. I saw every tree and the fields completely infested with the vines and we walked away and went to another place. Have a look at my picture section as I have listed what the vines look like. Poison Ivy vines just love christmas tree's here in Virginia.

I'm too have had an adverse reaction to Prednisone. Never again will I use it. Thought I was going to have a mental breakdown.
--"Jack" ([email protected]) submitted 27/May/2003

Haven't had pi in years and had a huge vine (almost as large as a small tree trunk in some areas and covered with red (fur?)) taking over the garage. I tackled it on day 1 wearing gloves and long sleeves and bathing immediately after. Day 2 I become brazen and wore short sleeves, no gloves. Day 4 was the onset of a huge breakout. Finally on day 9 I gave in and went to the Dr. He percribed prednisone, hydroxyzine (for itching) and fluocinonide cream tar. I took the medicines 4 hrs ago and they are working but I also tried hot baths, baths with salt and straight bleach, all with some success. I fantasized today that I married a really large hairbrush (one of my favorite ways to itch) and the honeymoon was phenomonal! My boyfreind (also has pi) and I have mused about why this fuzzy plant should have such an aggresive nature. I mean, is there a pot of gold in the roots? Anyway after scratching my skin raw (I almost reach utiphia) I say anything that brings you relief can't be bad. Here's to a new level of respect for pi
--"Julia Jeselnick" ([email protected]) submitted 28/May/2003

I dug up an old terra cotte sewer pipe and had to go through a bank of ground ivy that had some poison ivy & oak in it. Regardless of what the "experts" say, I maintain there is a difference between poison ivy and poison oak. In my opinion, the latter is much more virulent and potent. In the past doctors would always give me a week's supply of cortisone pills and prescription-strength hydrocortisone cream. Things much have changed over-the-years because a local "Doc-in-a-Box" gave me a prescription for prednisone only. He said it was the next generation beyond cortisone. He also said they give internal or topical medications but not both at the same time. Therefore no skin cream. As the blisters started fading, I broke out with a hives that ran on the inside of both arms, around my waist, and developed huge unsightly discolorations about both ankles. Plus I was having trouble sleeping at night and developed a cold in the middle of summer! The doctor thought I had scabies (from being exposed to the clogged sewer pipe we were replacing) and gave me a sulfur-based antiobiotic medication to be showered off as well as a prescription for more prednisone. He said it was impossible for anyone to be allergic to prednisone as it's produced naturally within the body. During the next week I started having heart flutterings and severe migraine-like headaches. I finally quit taking the prednisone when I started dry-heaving (i.e., vomiting without anything "coming up"). I have never been allergic to any medication in my life. Being in excellent shape (5-10" 135-lbs, non-drinker/non-smoker and a former competitive middle-distance runner and semi-pro roller-skater), the rapid heartbeats were very new to me. He threw his hands up in the air and sent me to a dermatologist. I quit the prednisone "cold turkey" which I know you're not supposed to do. But I honestly feel I would have been dead if I had continued. The 'derm' gave me a prescription for Claritin. He did affirm that I did not have scabies but he wouldn't comment on my suspicions that I was allergic to at least the type of steroid that was present in prednisone. Neither doctor would return my phone calls to tell me what was going on. I suspect the latter was covering up for the former. I found that over-the-counter Benadryl worked better than Claritin. It took a week before the hives and ankle discolorations began to fade. (The actual poison oak blisters were long since gone ... the "cure" was proving a lot worse than the original "ailment"!) But it took a couple of months for my abdomen and waistline to return to normal. Then 4 months later I started bloating-up again and had some severe headaches. Almost like either (1) the prednisone hadn't "washed out" of my system or (2) my body's steroid system was "confused" by the prednisone and was generating more internal steroids (Cortisol is what the body produces) than it had in the past when it sensed an allergic reaction. It reminded me of a "hysteresis memory effect" that one sees with magnetic fields and even in simple valves. When I called the local doctors, none of them wanted to touch me and referred me to the immunology departments of major universities. I did some research on the Internet and found that steroid (in particular prednisone) are not that rare and are more common than most general practioners recognize. The symptoms were directly traced to the drug itself and not any "fillers" that were used to bind the drug in a tablet. The body naturally produces Cortisol -- not prednisone -- and there are blood tests to measure excessive amounts. But these are tricky and are usually done by sports doctors (like on the Olympic and professional sports teams). The local doctors swear there is no such thing as an anti-Cortisol drug but I've seen hints of its existence at sites dealing with body-building. Former Olymic marathon winner Frank Shorter admitted in a Sports Illustrated magazine clip that it was impossible to compete in world-class athletic without "legal" performance enhancers (I'm assuming he meant steroids), but it was very important to have your system monitored daily to un-do something if you took too much. I have had a few other out-of-the-blue symptoms of prednisone "poisoning" but they seem to have diminished in intensity. So maybe my internal steroid system is restoring itself to its prior "memory" of how much to produce when it senses an allergic reaction. Recently I had gotten another minor bout with poison oak. I tried Zanfel this time. It didn't seem to do much for me. Temporary relief of a few hours. I suspect that the urishiol oil had bonded too tightly over 3-4 days. I tried several applications of Zanfel but none would help. I ended up going to another "Doc-in-a-Box" who gave me a steroid-free cream. I can't remember the name but he said it was originally prescribed for eczema cases. I don't know if it did that much as it still took 2 weeks to clear up a small blister. I took Benadryl for the itch. Zanfel is very expensive and most drug stores (around here) won't carry it because people can't afford it. On me, anyway, it didn't work once the oil got too "established". I didn't try Tecnu and those products. I really wish next time I could go back to the internal-cortisone and topical-hydrocortisone cream treatments that were "foolproof" for me in the past. But it sounds like they don't prescribe them anymore ...
--"Mark" ([email protected]) submitted 16/Jun/2003

My 11 year old son decided to build a fort near the river where we live. He broke branches and pulled up weeds never knowing it was poison sumac was messing around with! He has learned the hard way that he is highly allergic to the stuff. His face was swelled up so bad his eyes were swollen shut. The ER prescribed Predisone for 12 days. We were back at the DR's 3 days later and they gave us a steroid cream to also use. The swelling went down very quickly after that. Anyone getting a bad case should definately see their dr and get the medicine. All the other remedies just stung. Needless to say I made sure he now knows exactly what poison ivy, poison sumac and poison oak looks like.
--"Lori" ([email protected]) submitted 18/Jun/2003


Neomycin & Prednisone

Greetings: Two weeks ago I came in contact with Poison Ivy and had it in my eyes and on my lower arms, from between my fingers to my elbows( almost one complete rash the whole length) For my eyes, my doctor gave me Neomycin Ointment, which I applied every 4 hours. For my arms I received a prescription of Prednisone. For the intense itching, I used Baby Powder!!! It really shut down the incredible, insane throbbing, itching and I was able to sleep in comfort. I also soaked my arms in cold water with baking soda I've also used hydrogen peroxide solution. Hope this helps, Art
--Arthur Newman ([email protected]) submitted 18/Jun/2001



OK- I'll spill the beans- I have been plaqued each summer by the nasty rash from exposure to poison oak since moving to Oregon 5 years ago. My first case weeped so bad I had dressings all over my legs just to collect the serous fluid. Here's the answer and best remedy I have found. Just bite the bullet, go to the Dr. and get a shot in the behind with 80 mg of Depomedrol if there are no contraindications for you. The rash will start drying up in about a day and you will avoid all of the guessing games about what will work to get rid of this nasty invader.
--"childwriter" ([email protected]) submitted 3/Jun/2001

I too am battling Poison Ivy at this time. It's what brought me to the site. I just wanted to clarify something. There is no poison ivy shot; maybe there was at one time, but there is not now. The shot you hear people refer ("poison ivy shot") to is actually a steroid. Usually the steroid given is Depromedrol. This is a neat cure, but isn't given for mild cases, due to the side effects. My advice is to try some of these other treatments (the reasonable ones), and if they aren't helping then see a physician. If you explain to your physician what you have tried, and prove to him that you cannot get rid of it then he/she will probably be willing to give the injection. Side effects are puffy cheeks, deterioration of bone mass (with proloneduse), and systematic tolerance. These are just a few side effects I am mentioning. Good luck!___________________________________Lori Trowbridge,
IPPNSIndiana University - Purdue University Fort Wayne,Parkview Nursing Program
--"L Trowbridge" ([email protected]) submitted 25/Jan/2001



After 19 years, I am having a return visit of Poison Ivy. Called Dermatologist immediatly, and he prescribed a 6 day treatment series of methylprednisolone. My Psyryosis is clear, but the pi continues to rage on (I also have not been sleeping well). Nineteen Years ago, the family Doctor prescribed a four-day series of pills and it was clear-up by the time I took the third pill on the first day. I don't remember what it was, but I wish I had it now. Hot showers are great.Going to the Ocean tomorrow for salts and sun!
--"Kevin" ([email protected]) submitted 31/Aug/2001

My doctor has prescibed me what looks like a generic pill alternative to allergen shots and it's called methylprednisolinone. I'm not quite sure that's exactly how it's spelled but I know that's the name of it because I consider this a life saver. It's a pill "blisterpack" that you take over the course of a week and with descending dosageages every day as well as times you should take your pillsand all information printed on the single blister pack and plastic jewel case that you can carry in your pocket. I usually feel immediate cessation of itching after the first day. It's a bit gradual, but very affordable and very effective. I've gotten poison ivy many times in my life and this seems to be a cure-all. I just wish methylprednisolinone was sold over the counter in small dosages so I could go on my outdoor adventures without having to visit the doctor afterwards for the poison ivy prescription.
--"Raymond Fritz" ([email protected]) submitted 26/Apr/2003
Editor:methylprednisolone. According to our warning section from another reader, this also doesn't include many of the side effects.

I contracted poison ivy for the first time in my 34 years, 3 weeks ago. After a week, I went to the doctor and was given a cortisone injection and was also prescribed a compound of Lubriderm lotion/cortisone. I did not feel relief from either. I called the doctor again 5 days later and began Methylprednisolone dose pack. Within 24 hours I began to feel relief in the swelling, oozing and nagging itching. After completing my third day of the dose pack, the oozing is completely gone, but I had four new patches, not yet blistering. I purchased two over-the-counter meds last night and am currently feeling a lot of relief: Extra Strength Ivy-Dry Super (spray bottle) and Tecnu, by Oak-N-Ivy Brand. I like the "no-touch" spray which almost has a lasting "cooling" feeling. I am not yet sure which of the products is helping, or if it is a combination of the two. Tecnu does say not to use for at least 3 days after using hydrocortisone ointments, but since I stopped using that days ago due to ineffectiveness, it was not a problem. The surrounding skin is becoming pretty dry and somewhat scaling, but this is a small price to pay to get relief and hopefully put an end to it! By the way, I found your site to be so helpful! Thanks for the great information and photo resource, as I did not know what the plant looked like until today.
--"Debbie" ([email protected]) submitted 23/May/2003

After spending two days gardening this past week, I noticed that later that evening a large raised bite under my watch. I immediately gave myself a bleach wash on both arms, but failed to wash off my gardening tools and clothing. Within 24 hours, both arms, legs, and breakouts on my neck and shoulders appeared. Needless to say the pain from the intense burning and itching was too much. So off to the emergency room, where the doctor immediately took my blood pressure, which had elevated, and was given a shot of a coritzone steriod. Followed by the methylprenisolone pill pac in descending dosage. He also recommended Ivy Dry or Chorldryl. Which has worked well in the drying process. He also recommended a wash of chorline and warm water. After five days, my rashes have lessened however, I still have breakouts. I may need a refill of the methylprenisolone, while realizing that everyone has a different tolerance to the ivy posioning. Amazing how such a small plant wrecks havoc with the body and can do so much damage. My gardening has been curtailed to container pots and gardening centers, much to my dismay. But at least the swelling has improved over the course of the week. Good luck to all those other fellow poison ivy sufferers. It's the pits.
--"Barbara Miller-Stacey" ([email protected]) submitted 10/Jun/2003



I've had poison ivy a few times and I think I have it again after being in the woods. Last time I had it the doc put me on a steroid pack that decreased from about 6 pills to 1 pill in one week. The dosage was not near strong enough and on the 3rd day I was on it I had to go back to the doc and get something called a Dex-Pak. It is a pack of steroids that starts off with 8 pills a day and last for 2 weeks gradually giving less dosage. The pills worked great, but let me warn you they increase your appitite and you can never get enough to eat. I gained 5 lbs in one week and a total of 8 in two weeks. Also I could not stay awake and had to frequently get up during the night because I could not sleep. I recomend the Dex-Pak to anyone who is willing to gain a few pounds.
--"A. Greewalt" ([email protected]) submitted 30/Dec/2002


Atarax & Prednisone

I've had poison ivy for about a week now and nothing I try seems to be working. I've had prescription creams that are difficult to apply to large areas and fail without relieving any pain/itching. I've had a prednisone dose pack (4 mg tablets) that helped the poison ivy from spreading but did not make it go away. I had a prescription of atarax (50 mg tablets) that did little more than put me asleep. I would take a shower at least twice a day to wash the oils of my skin and air dry in the bathroom. I was in constant misery, my eyes were burning and swollen shut, my ear passages were clogged by swelling, and every day tasks turned into a whirlwind of pain and itching. My poison ivy has gotten exponentially worse as I get older. I've had it on every part of my body at least 3 times (each time worse than the last). Now I have a prescription of prednisone (10 mg tablets) and a prescription of atarax (50 mg tablets) held at the pharmacy 24 / 7. That seems to do the trick. I also have medical staff on hand so I never get poison ivy for more than a week.
(Atarax did help the itching go away and sleep is always good) For people that have extreme cases of poison ivy I recommend prednisone, atarax, plenty of showers, and sleep (sleep mainly to distract you from the pain and itching) The irony of my situation I'm a Boy Scout -Dan Paquette-
[email protected] submitted 26/Apr/2003



Diprolene For a seeping rash ask your doctor about this product. It comes in a clear gel that you apply to the affected area. Really cleared my poison ivy up fast!
--"Jack Zimmer" ([email protected]) submitted 2/Jun/2003
Editor: This medicine is a corticosteroid used to reduce itching,redness,and swelling associated with any skin condition according to its documentation and goes by the chemical name betamethasone. Found this fda paper when searching for it.


Cortisone Cream

Five years ago I had a really bad case of Poison Ivy. I was visiting my mother and helping her to clear her back yard. Prior to going in the house to take a shower, I went for a 5 mile run in the heat which apparently spread the Poison Ivy oil all over my legs and arms. On the 2nd day after exposure I went to the doctor for a shot of Prednisone and was also given a prescription for Cortisone cream. The cortisone cream just made the rash worse. My arms and legs were covered with itchy red welts. Meanwhile, I had driven another 300 miles to visit my sister and the day after I got there I had to go to the hospital emergency room where I was given a 2 week course of steroids and told to take Benadryl. I showed the doctor there the prescription cortisone cream and he said not to use it anymore. It was nearly a month before my poison Ivy cleared up. Previous to that time I had been rinsing my extremities with alcohol anytime I was out in the woods, doing yard work etc. But could not find any alcohol at my mother's house. There is no time when I have used alcohol after exposure that I have broken out. That said, I currently have a mild case of poison Ivy on one of my forearms and I'm not sure where I got it. I was pulling weeds up 2 days prior to getting the rash although I didn't notice any poison ivy then. If that was the case I think I would have it on my right arm instead of my left since that's the arm I use to pull weeds with. Or possibly I brushed against a vine while out running on Sunday.
--"Mary" ([email protected]) submitted 26/Jun/2003


Zyrtec stopped the itch in less then an hour, and 1 pill works for 24 hours. The very night I got the perscription, I had my first night's full sleep. I was amazed, and so very thankful. I had tried everything, the pink stuff, Technu, and Zanfel. The only thing that stopped the itch was Zyrtec.
--"Samantha" ([email protected]) submitted 02/August/2003