As a landscaper and avid camper, hunter and hiker, I've had more than my fair share of exposure to poison ivy. All of the over-the-counter lotions and creams seem to be fairly effective, but in my experience they don't go to work quickly enough. I've found that rubbing alcohol takes the itch away faster and dries the rash out in half the time the usual remedies take. Alcohol might sting a little at first, but I find the sting helps take my mind off the itch.
One day after fresh contact with a poison ivy patch, I discovered much to my horror that I was out of rubbing alcohol. Desperate, I reached for the nearest available alcohol-containing substance: hair spray. It worked like a charm! The alcohol dried out the rash, and the hair spray formed a protective barrier that kept the rash from spreading and from being further irritated by contact with my hair or clothing. Both alcohol and hair spray (I use Rave #4) are quite inexpensive, and they're clear, so nobody can tell you have them on.