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University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center
Publish Date: 06/12/01
Media Contact: AHC Public Relations, (513) 558-4553
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Poison Ivy Thrives in the Midwest

Cincinnati--Heavy rains in the Ohio River valley have produced a massive amount of poison ivy in the Tristate this year. Bruce Gebhardt, MD, associate professor of family medicine in the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine, says already this year he has seen some very serious cases of poison ivy. Gebhardt has some simple tips for preventing or soothing a poison ivy reaction:

  • Enjoy the summer but learn to recognize the "leaves of three, and let it be."
  • Avoid river banks and dense undergrowth where most poison ivy grows.
  • Wear long sleeves, gloves and long pants when doing yard work or hiking.
  • Carefully place all outer garments in the washer and wash with soap and hot water. Poison ivy resin can cling to clothes for months and can cause an allergic reaction in anyone who touches them.
  • Wash with warm water and soap immediately after exposure to poison ivy.
  • Watch where your pets go or bathe them regularly with warm water and shampoo. The resin sticks to their coat and can rub off on you when you pet them.
  • To treat poison ivy, ask your pharmacist for over-the-counter medications that provide itch relief. A poison ivy outbreak usually lasts 14 to 21 days.
  • For severe outbreaks, see your doctor. They may prescribe steroid creams, and antihistamines such as benadryl to reduce the itch and speed the healing process.
  • Bathe in cool water with oatmeal powder and apply cool compresses to the blisters.
  • Try not to scratch. It can lead to bacterial infection.


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