I haven’t had poison ivy since I was a kid. Although I have been camping and hiking quite often since becoming an adult, I have either been lucky enough not to run across it in my adventures, or I am not as allergic to it as I once was. They do say our allergies can change after a number of years, after all.
When I was young, my mother’s answer for this was of course to put calamine lotion on it. While this did help, it still itched a great deal, took a long time to heal, and was very uncomfortable. There are things I would do differently now, however.
Though I would still use calamine lotion, for it is still a great old “stand by”, I would first start with an oatmeal bath. I would use real oatmeal, but you can also get great oatmeal soaps now too, like Aveeno, for example. They even make a lotion that can help.
An additional aspect to be concerned with when you are exposed to poison ivy is cleaning. All clothes and objects exposed must be cleaned, in addition to yourself. Oils from poison ivy (as well as oak and sumac) can collect on clothes and items, and cause reinfection. This should always be your first concern after bathing yourself.
For lotions, I would go with a good Hydro-cortisone creme, and/or the trusty old calamine lotion, or course. Antihistamines can also be a helpful thing to take internally, especially if you are highly allergic, and it is a major breakout.
There are also natural remedies for poison ivy that can be found right in your kitchen cabinets. A paste made from water and baking soda can be very beneficial. Equal parts of vinegar, salt, and baking soda can be used on the same manner, as can the simple juice from a green tomato. All these remedies are about as effective as calamine lotion.
In addition, there are herbal remedies that can be used. A rag or paper towel can be used to make a poultice or compress to apply the herbs to the infected area. A poultice would use the entire raw herb, wrapped in a rag or paper towel, and a compress would be similar, except a tea made from the herbs would be used. Some good herbs for either of these purpose would be witch hazel, aloe vera, tea tree, jewelweed, or a combination of any of these. Any of these can be used to sooth the itching. Anti-inflammatory herbs such as turmeric, nutmeg, cayenne, basil, and burdock root can also be used to reduce swelling.