(WHTM) — Many of us have been there before; the intense, itchy rash caused by poison ivy. So what can be done to avoid it?

Yamile Cuevas, a nurse practitioner for CVS MinuteClinic, says first you should learn to identify the plant.

“Leaves of three, let them be, we say,” Cuevas said. “It can have sort of a shiny sheen and it does contain an oil, which is what penetrates the skin…sometimes as quickly as 10 minutes.”

If you do touch poison ivy, remove clothing carefully and wash it. Then rinse the affected area of your body with water. Excessive cleaning can backfire.

“So the best thing to do is just to rinse with water,” Cuevas said. “The oil can penetrate the skin, so if you scrub or rub, it can push that oil even further into the skin.”

Once you wash, you must wait. Rashes can show up anywhere from four hours to four days after contact.

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With poison ivy rashes, Cuevas says antihistamines and hydrocortisone creams are not the way to go.

“Some of the best treatment you can try at home would be a cold, wet compress to relieve the itching,” she said. “Oatmeal baths help to relieve the itching and calamine lotion can help dry up some of the weeping areas that can develop from that rash.”

If the rash is over a large or sensitive area or your skin starts to open, it’s best to seek medical attention. Often times a topical steroid cream can be prescribed in addition to antibiotics for minor skin infections.