Poison ivy, oak, and sumac each produce a chemical in the oil of their leaves that causes burning, itching, redness, and blistering in the skin as a result of an inflammation reaction. This inflammation reaction is called contact dermatitis.
The drug bentoquatam 5% is in a lotion form that is to be applied to the skin at least 15 minutes before exposure to poison ivy, oak, or sumac. The lotion hardens to form a clay-like coating that can be seen on the protected portions of skin. Bentoquatam is manufactured under the trade name IvyBlock.
This preventative agent can be helpful to people traveling through wilderness areas where poison ivy, oak, or sumac are prevalent. It should be especially beneficial to hikers, park rangers, fire fighters, and others who must encounter these toxic plants.
The lotion must be reapplied every four hours for continuous protection. It is not to be used to treat the rash that has already developed from poison ivy, oak, or sumac. It is not recommended for children under the age of 6 years.
The editors of MedicineNet also recommend the following preventative measures to avoid the "sting" of poison ivy, oak, and sumac:
- Teach children to recognize the vines and plants.
- Wear protective clothing; wash immediately after exposure.
- Wash skin with soap and water immediately after exposure.
- Remember that the "poison" chemical can be transferred from one body area to another, thereby transferring the rash reaction.