Steer Clear of Poison Ivy

poison-ivy“Leaves of three, let them be.”

Have you ever heard that old rhyme? It was written to keep people away from poison ivy, a poisonous plant that grows three glossy leaves to a stem.

Poison ivy can grow just about anywhere, from forest paths to campsites and backyard gardens. If you come in contact with the plant, chances are you’ll develop an itchy, red rash a few days later due to the urushiol the plant contains which most people are allergic to.

A poison ivy rash can also cause skin blisters, which will eventually become crusty and flake off. It generally takes one to three weeks for a poison ivy rash to heal.

To ease your itching, you can:

  • Use an over-the-counter corticosteroid cream
  • Apply calamine lotion
  • Take an over-the-counter antihistamine medication, such as Benadryl®
  • Soak in a cool bath containing baking soda or Aveeno®
  • Place cool, wet compresses on itchy areas

“Typically home remedies are enough to soothe your rash, but sometimes prescription creams or medications are needed,” said Robert Nolan, DO, Medical Director of Emergency Medicine, Lakeland Health. “Unless your condition is extreme, we recommend saving yourself both time and money by visiting a Lakeland Health Walk-In Clinic instead of an Emergency Department for treatment.” For a complete list of Walk-In Clinic locations and wait times, visit

© Spectrum Health Lakeland 2021