Poison ivy usually has to run its course. In the meantime, symptomatic treatments such as calamine lotion, Aveeno® oatmeal baths, Domeboro® compresses, or topical corticosteroids may help relieve itching. Oral antihistamines such as Benadryl® may provide symptomatic relief but may cause drowsiness.
If the rash is extensive enough and bothersome, one should seek medical care. Emergency rooms frequently evaluate people with poison ivy, as do primary care physicians and dermatologists. A physician may prescribe a stronger topical corticosteroid cream or ointment than what is available without a prescription. It usually takes the strongest topical corticosteroid to have any effect on poison ivy, since the resin is such a potent sensitizer and cause of the rash.
Learning to prevent poison ivy exposure in the first place is key. If you are outdoors and suspect poison ivy is present, cover up and make sure that when you remove your clothing you are not exposing yourself to the chemicals in poison ivy.
Dr. Lowell Goldsmith and Dr. Jeff Bernhard contributed their expertise on behalf of VisualDx for the above information.