How Much Liquid Benadryl Can My 2 Year Old Have A Dermatologist Rates the Top 10 Poison Oak and Poison Ivy Treatments

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A Dermatologist Rates the Top 10 Poison Oak and Poison Ivy Treatments

Type “poison oak or poison ivy treatment” on Google and you are overwhelmed with choices. Which product works best? When you’re scratching your skin to the bone and losing sleep, people are going for anything. The itching sensation is called “pruritus” in medical terms. People say it’s often worse than physical pain. The mind has a much harder time blocking out the itching sensation than the painful stimuli. Because these rashes manifest differently in a wide range of people, there is no “one size fits all” remedy. The internet is full of drastic suggestions ranging from pouring diesel fuel on it to washing it with pure bleach. I caution against this advice because I see permanent scarring and unacceptable pigmentary changes long after the rash has cleared. Since poison ivy and ivy rashes clear up on their own within days to weeks without treatment, it’s difficult to establish concrete causal relationships regarding which remedies work best. The following list is my professional opinion as a dermatologist. This list may be biased by the fact that I see the most difficult cases; in that I see people for whom most over-the-counter (OTC) drugs have not worked.

1. “Sasquatch Itch Cream”: Ideally, you wouldn’t need this treatment, but not everyone is perfect. If you have to reach for it, it probably means an itchy rash is forming on your skin. I call it the “poison ivy extinguisher” because it’s formulated to soothe on contact and smother the smoldering rash. Once the resin binds to your skin cells, the outer cell membrane is permanently altered. The immune system no longer recognizes the skin cell as belonging to you and triggers an attack on it. This is where Sasquatch Itch Cream works; he tramples this attack. This product is not for pure naturalists, however, as it contains powerful synthetic anti-itch compounds and cortisone. Sasquatch Itch Cream was designed for the military, specifically to ensure that soldiers can complete their missions and not linger in the medical tent. Now it is mainly used by survivalists and hiking enthusiasts to make their adventures less irritating. Landscape professionals and phone line climbers are also attracted to this product in droves. In short, this product is designed with your misery in mind. That works. It works well. It works quickly. You also have to love a product that “Sasquatch endorses” (according to the website). Retail: $24.99 Not available in stores but a quick Google search will find it.

2. Rubbing Alcohol (Isopropyl Alcohol): As boring as this product may sound, nothing beats the price. Alcohol wipes can be purchased for pennies on the dollar compared to other washes and solvents. While poison ivy and poison ivy resin is not water soluble, a few alcohol wipes will do. They travel well in almost all circumstances and in all environments. Most pharmacies carry these with their diabetic supplies, so don’t be afraid to ask if you can’t find them in the aisles. Mineral spirits available at all hardware and art supply stores is another alternative. Retail: $3 to $7 per 100 wipes.

3. Benadryl (diphenhydramine): Histamine is one of the substances released by your skin that causes itching. Diphenhydramine has been around since World War II and is a powerful histamine receptor blocker on skin cells. The mast cell lingers in your skin just loaded with histamine granules. Under the microscope, it looks like a balloon full of little balls just waiting to pop. The release of these histamine granules is the main cause of the rash and itching. The oral formulation can cause sedation and is the active ingredient in many nighttime sleeping pills. Therefore, caution is advised if you are unsure of your sensitivity. This virtually ubiquitous cream is available at any grocery store, gas station, or drugstore. Retail: $2-5 per 1-2 oz. Non-sedating oral histamines include claritin, zyrtec, and allegra, to name a few. None of these are currently available in topical formulation.

4. Calamine Lotion: This old standby won’t go away, and for good reason. It is inexpensive and it provides a small degree of immediate relief. Zinc oxide and iron are the two main components, but its anti-itch properties are attributed to the phenol inside. It is sold in many different formulations, but my favorite is Caladryl (which also contains generic benadryl). Everyone probably has a childhood summer memory of their grandma complimenting bubblegum pink ends for that sunburn or poison oak rash. However, it wasn’t until several years ago that the United States Food and Drug Administration came to officially recommend its application for poison ivy and poison ivy. Calamine works best if stored in the fridge in my experience. Retail $5-10

5. Technu: Short for “New Technology”, this product is primarily used as a wash for poison oak resin. This product is extremely popular and its parent company has been a marketing genius in promoting it. The main ingredient is messy mineral spirits and certain alcohol compounds (see #2). Although it works for many people, a study in the International Journal of Dermatology concluded that it offered no financial benefit over washing with Dial soap. Whichever resin washing method is chosen, it should be done within 15 minutes of exposure. Once the resin fuses with your skin cells, the immune system will go ballistic and spawn that nasty rash. Interestingly, Technu was first formulated to wash away radioactive dust in the 1960s. Retail: $15-$39.99.

6. Ivy Block: This is my favorite preventative for poison ivy and poison ivy. The idea of ​​applying impure clay to your skin to absorb plant resin sounds reasonable to any Neanderthal. But thanks to the good folks at Ivy Block for creating an elegant and safe formulation acceptable to the modern man. The use of medicinal clay is well documented in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt and probably dates back much longer. A patented form of bentonite clay prevents the resin from coming into contact with your skin’s immune system. It should be applied 15-20 minutes before anticipated exposure. I love this product because it is safe for children, effective and, with a little imagination, connects us to our ancient medicinal roots. It is such a good oil absorber that bentonite can be used to treat acne and excessive skin oiliness (Clearasil is such a product). Retail $8.99 to $25.99.

7. Gold Bond Itch Cream: Gold Bond, originally made by Tennesseans and later sold to the French, combines topical zinc with the soothing calm of menthol and pramoxine. All major drugstore chains offer their own generic version for a few dollars less. Retail: $4-5 per 1-2 oz tube.

8. Hydrocortisone: Perhaps nothing evokes as much fear in my patients as hydrocortisone. People automatically remember images of a bloated parent who had been taking “cortisone pills” for years. It’s hard to get in trouble with topical over-the-counter hydrocortisone if it’s been used for a week or two. Like Sasquatch Itch Cream, it stops inflammation at the cellular level. However, it provides no immediate or intermediate relief. A good coat of hydrocortisone can take up to 48 hours to start working. Technically, it can be purchased OTC at 2.5%, but it’s hard to find, as 1% seems to be the manufacturers preference. Retail: $3-7 1-2 ounces (usually more if mixed with aloe).

9. Ivarest: Touted as a “Dual Relief” cream, Ivarest Poison Ivy Itch Cream is a reasonably solid product at a good price. It contains generic benadryl (see 3) and calamine (see 4). There is also benzyl alcohol which soothes on contact. What I like about Ivarest is the neutral calamine it contains. Other than the smell and the slight residue it leaves behind, you can’t tell you have it. It’s an elegant formulation at the right price for mild discomfort from poison oak and ivy. Retail price: $4-8 per bottle. Ivarest is also sold as a wash in liquid-to-foam technology. I’m not aware of any credible studies on this wash versus Technu or just plain soap. I feel like it wouldn’t compare any more favorably to soap or rubbing alcohol than Technu did.

10. Triamcinolone Injection: Yes, this is not available over the counter and may not belong on this list. But it’s my workhorse in the office. If the above treatments fail you, a good intramuscular dose of triamcinolone will bring you back to your old self. It is readily available in almost all emergency rooms and doctor’s offices. Cost: $30-100 (plus office visit)

Of course, the best treatment is prevention. Learn what pest plants in your area look like and how to identify them. To learn more about poison ivy and ivy, you can read the article “Dermatologist Ponders Poison Oak.”

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