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Skin Rashes: Home Treatment

Topic Overview

Home treatment often can relieve discomfort and itching until a rash clears up. If you have come in contact with a substance that causes contact dermatitis (such as poison ivy, oak, or sumac), immediately wash the area with large amounts of water.

Over-the-counter medicines may help relieve itching. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label. Some over-the-counter medicines may caution against use in the genital area or caution use for children.

  • Zinc oxide ointment is soothing to irritated skin.
  • Calamine lotion is helpful for contact dermatitis, such as poison ivy or oak rashes.
  • For severe itching, apply hydrocortisone cream (1%) 3 times a day until the itch is gone. Note: Do not use the cream on children younger than age 2 unless your doctor tells you to. Do not use in the rectal or vaginal area in children younger than age 12 unless your doctor tells you to.
  • Try an oral antihistamine to help interrupt the scratch-itch cycle. Examples include a nondrowsy one like loratadine (Claritin) or one that might make you sleepy like diphenhydramine (Benadryl). Oral antihistamines are helpful when itching and discomfort are interfering with or preventing normal activities, such as school, work, or sleep. Don't give antihistamines to your child unless you've checked with the doctor first.

Credits

Current as of: October 30, 2019

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine

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