Poison ivy is a shrub or a vine which can grow almost anywhere. You may come in contact with this plant in your garden, in the forest or the fields. The sad part about this is that its resin can give you a nasty rash if you touch it because it contains urushiol, an extremely common allergen. We may find the same substance in poison oak or poison sumac. Only a few percent of the people can be exposed to this compound without getting an allergic reaction. The resin is very adhesive, and it easily sticks to your clothes or skin.
The allergic eruption may occur if you touch the plant (stem, leaves, berries or roots), or any objects contaminated with this allergen. For example, when you go through poison ivy, your shoes will be covered with urushiol. It may cause blisters to appear years later.
It may take somewhere between two hours and ten days for the rash to erupt, so you may even not remember that you were ever near poison ivy. You can have the following symptoms: an intense sensation of burning and itching, even pain, swelling, red pustules. In the most severe cases, individuals may experience fever. If you scratch the infected area, the rash will rapidly spread. This will also happen unless you treat it correctly. The blisters will probably remain on your skin for a couple of weeks.
In the case someone inhales smoke from burning poison ivy, this person may have difficulty in breathing. It is a sign you should contact your doctor.
Home Remedies for Poison Ivy Rash Which Work Well
The good thing about this whole situation is that you may find a lot of home remedies for poison ivy rash below. You may use the one that works for you because each organism has a different way of reacting to natural cures.
1. Epsom Salt
One of the best remedies for poison ivy is Epsom salt. It is effective as it dries out the pustules quickly and can bring great relief.
If you have an extended rash, take a relaxing bath in warm water combined with a cup of Epsom salt. Don’t stay in the water more than 15 minutes as it may irritate your skin.
However, if only a small part of your skin is affected, you may as well prepare an Epsom salt solution.
You will need:
- 1 tablespoon Epsom salt
- 1 cup water
- Place the water in a small pot over medium heat, and then add the salt when it starts to bubble. Stir well and let cool so you can apply it to the skin.
- Rinse the affected area with clean water and dry out with a towel.
- Soak a clean cotton pad in the solution and apply on the rash.
- Leave it there to act for about 5 minutes, and then rinse again with clear water. Repeat this procedure until no longer necessary.
2. Oatmeal Bath
Itching caused by the rash is not a pleasant thing. When you want to get relief for poison ivy, you may surely take an oatmeal bath. Oatmeal contains some substances called avenanthramide and phenols which have an anti-inflammatory effect and can soothe the symptoms of the allergic reaction.
- 1 cup ground oatmeal
- 1 nylon stocking
- After you grind the grain, put it in the sock and make a knot.
- Place it under running water when you fill the bathtub.
- Take a long, half-hour relaxing bath so the oatmeal can work on alleviating the itching and pain.
3. Coconut Oil
One of the most known remedies for poison ivy is coconut oil. It is appropriate for any skin, and it can nourish the area and promote faster healing because of the healthy fats it contains. It is quite simple to apply this cure: take a small dab of oil and massage it onto the affected area. Repeat for several times a day (between five and ten applications) to get well faster.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
This precious liquid is a “good for all” cure. Besides from other uses, you can also utilize apple cider vinegar as a treatment for poison ivy. It has an excellent effect of taking the poison out of the rash thus fastening the healing process. Soak a cotton pad in a little bit of apple cider vinegar and apply on the infected skin. You may do that for as long as needed, reapplying several times a day.
Jewelweed is one of the most extremely effective herbs in treating poison ivy. It contains a fluid which works very well against urushiol because it neutralizes its effect. This plant grows almost everywhere, and it is also known as “Snap Weed” or “Touch Me Not.” North Americans have been using it for centuries for the ability to treat skin problems, like anything from cuts and burns to insect bites or dermatitis. It likes to grow in a humid and shady environment, and you will find it in broad areas in North America and Europe.
The fastest way of using this herb after being exposed to poison ivy is to take the plant, break the stem and rub the liquid against the affected portion of the skin. It will work as a preventive remedy since the fluid from jewelweed will neutralize the chemicals that cause the nasty rash.
If you work a lot in the garden or walk through the forest often, it would be a good idea to prepare a jewelweed infusion (find the recipe below) and freeze it in ice cubes, so you will always have it at hand. It will be effective even one year later, and it will soothe the itching.
6. Homemade Soap
The best home remedies for a rash (and for any other ailment) are the ones you prepare at home because you use the finest ingredients possible. The following lines contain a recipe for a homemade soap to treat poison ivy.
To prepare the soap, you will need some Jewelweed infused water and oil.
Bring 10 oz. of water to a boil when you want to infuse it. Add a handful of smashed jewelweed. Reduce the heat and simmer until the infusion becomes dark golden or orange.
For the oil, you will need 5 oz. coconut oil and 7 oz. olive oil. Combine the two precious oils and add them to a small pot. Stir in crushed jewelweed and simmer until the color of the oil is green. It will take about 60-90 minutes.
Below you have the list of ingredients for the soap:
- 4 oz. lye
- 14 oz. tallow
- Water and oils previously infused
- 1 oz. essential oils of choice
- Mix the infused oils and tallow and heat through until 95F.
- Take the lye and the infused water outside. Add the lye to the water very carefully. Let the mixture reach to 95F.
- Bring the lye water to the oils and blend with a hand mixer.
- Stir in the essential oils.
- Pour the mixture into small silicone molds and leave to rest for one day.
- The soap is ready to use after four to six weeks.
Toothpaste has a calming and cooling effect and can be utilized for getting poison ivy relief. It is useful in soothing the itching and pain because of the menthol which is also known as a mild anesthetic. Plus, you will smell nice. But make sure to purchase a natural toothpaste since the chemicals in the conventional one may do more harm to your skin which is already damaged. How to use this toothpaste to fight a poison ivy rash? Just grab a small amount of toothpaste and apply it to the affected spots. Leave it there overnight and rinse it in the morning with warm water.
Bleach is another drying agent which will help you get rid of poison ivy fast. Nevertheless, it can have some side effects such as irritating the skin. So it is up to you if you want to use it or not, though the blisters should go away in a day or two with this remedy.
You will need:
- ¼ cup bleach
- ¼ cup water
- Combine the two ingredients and prepare a solution.
- Soak a cotton pad or a clean piece of cotton cloth in it and apply to the infected area.
- If this irritates your skin, clean out with a compress soaked in water with a pinch of Epsom salt. It will calm the irritation and help with the recovery of the epidermis.
9. Witch Hazel
Witch hazel is commonly used in treating poison ivy rash. Native Americans knew its great properties for alleviating skin conditions and utilized it accordingly. You will only need witch hazel tonic which you may find in any drug store. Just take a cotton pad and soak it in the solution. Place the pad on the itchy spot, and you will benefit from the calming and cooling effect. This remedy won’t make the rash disappear fast, but it can make you feel better, and it will speed up the healing.
10. Baking Soda Paste
Baking soda can be very helpful as a home remedy for poison ivy. This very common powder can reduce the itching and stop you from willing to scratch that particular area affected by the rash.
You will need:
- 2 tablespoons water
- 6 tablespoons baking soda
- Whisk the ingredients in the list until you get a thick paste.
- Wash your hands and apply the paste directly on the rash.
- Let the paste dry on your skin.
- Wash with clean water and dry out using a paper towel or a clean cloth.
- Repeat several times a day if you need to.
11. Aloe Vera
You would certainly like to have this type of plant in your home. It has a lot of beneficial effects for your health. Besides of cleaning the air, it is also very efficient in treating skin problems. Your first aid kit should contain some pure aloe vera juice if you don’t grow it in your house. Just break off one of its stems and gently rub the blisters. The juice will bring a relief and a cooling sensation to the rash.
Leave it to act for at least ten to fifteen minutes before you rinse it off the skin.
Known for their use in spa centers, cucumbers not only nourish the skin but also help in soothing the itching and preventing the swelling. These are good reasons to use cucumber slices as poison ivy rash treatment.
You only need a knife and a cucumber. Slice it and rub the pieces on the area covered with pustules. You will experience a calming sensation. The application of this remedy is always at hand since it is a common vegetable and the rash will disappear sooner than usual. If you take the veggies out of the fridge, the relief will be greater.
13. Ocean Water
People who live by the ocean swear by this cure. So, if you have an ocean nearby and you accidentally ran into a vine, don’t hesitate to use the vast amount of water to get rid of poison ivy fast. To speed up the healing, scrub the area with a little bit of sand and then plunge into the ocean water. Some individuals claim that the blisters were gone in two or three days after applying salty water on affected skin area.
14. Lemon Juice
Lemon is a fruit with a high amount of Vitamin C which helps the skin rejuvenate. Using lemon juice to treat poison ivy is a great thing because it will help the epidermis to get rid of the ugly blisters. If you have the chance to apply the juice right after the exposure, the antibacterial properties of this fruit will prevent the rash from spreading. It is also a natural astringent and will clog the pores before the oil has the chance to penetrate the skin.
A less known remedy, yet still extremely effective, is rhubarb. Housewives usually prepare rhubarb pies because of the sweet and sour taste that it brings to food. However, you may successfully consider the plant a home remedy for poison ivy.
Rhubarb grows wild, and the juice from its stem brings a comfy effect on the sore spots. Just break the stem and rub it with delicacy on the blisters. It will have an immediate effect. This remedy is also safe to use with children.
If you want to speed up the healing, follow the treatment several times a day. For best effects, if the rash extends, apply rhubarb on the affected area every two hours.
6 Essential Oils for Poison Ivy Rash
Just like the above home remedies, essential oils are also a great treatment for poison ivy. If you get the chance to know an aromatherapy doctor or holistic healer, ask them to teach you how to use these powerful extracts if you are exposed to poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac.
Before utilizing essential oils to treat different ailments, you should take certain safety measures. Since they contain a significant amount of active substance from the plant, they can be potentially irritating. Therefore, never use them undiluted. The usual dosage is 4-5 drops to a teaspoon of carrier oil such as coconut, olive or almond oil. These are the most common, but don’t worry if you don’t have them at hand. Sunflower or sesame oil are still excellent for this purpose. However, there are more potent oils such as eucalyptus, and you will only need one or two drops or mild ones, like lavender, which can be used undiluted. You can also use water as a diluting agent.
Pay attention when you treat children. The dosage is smaller in their case. It is most unlikely that babies under three-months-old come in contact with poison ivy, but if that happens don’t use essential oils to heal their rash. Consult a doctor immediately.
People also need to take special cautions when treating pregnant women or nursing moms.
You may see below a list of some essential oils effective in curing the rash.
1. Tea Tree Oil
Melaleuca has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and is commonly used for treating poison ivy rash. You should consider keeping a small bottle with this oil made from Melaleuca alternifolia tree at home to be able to use it in the case of scabies, lice, athlete’s foot, yeast infections and many other ailments. Don’t worry you will have to throw it away when the expiry date approaches because it makes an excellent disinfectant agent and you can add it to the cleaning house solutions.
When utilizing it to treat the rash, you have the option of diluting it with water or a carrier oil.
- 1 small glass of water
- 5 drops of tea tree essential oil
- Pour the oil in the water and stir well.
- Take a small clean piece of cotton cloth and soak it in the solution.
- Gently wipe out the affected area. It can be a little bit stingy, but this is a sign that the remedy is working and the tea tree fights against the infection.
2. Peppermint Essential Oil
Menthol has a mild analgesic effect and brings a cooling and soothing sensation. It is an old cure for any itching and skin problems. Due to its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, peppermint oil works extremely well as poison rash treatment because it also reduces the swelling of the blisters.
Since it is useful for healing many conditions, it is probably a good idea to keep a bottle with this oil in the house.
You will need:
- 5-10 drops of peppermint essential oil
- 2 cups of Bentonite green clay
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- Combine the clay with the salt and add the essential oil.
- Gradually add the water until you get a smooth paste.
- Apply a small dab on the affected spots and leave it to act for about thirty minutes.
- Rinse with warm water and pat dry.
3. Lavender Essential Oil
Another oil with antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties is lavender essential oil. You can always carry a bottle with this precious liquid when you go hiking or when there are high chances of running into a poison ivy vine because if you apply it fast, it will prevent the poison from getting into the skin and you will face a moderate rash.
Since this is a mild oil, you may drip it undiluted directly on the exposed area.
4. Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Eucalyptus essential oil also contains menthol even if it is a distant relative of peppermint oil. It will reduce the swelling and give an instant relief for poison ivy rash.
Some individuals may use this oil undiluted, but it can be very irritating and even burn the skin. And you don’t need this in addition to your damaged skin. So, it is better to prepare a solution to treat your condition.
- 5 drops eucalyptus essential oil
- 2 cups of cold water
- Combine the two ingredients and stir well.
- Find a piece of clean cotton cloth and place it in the solution. Make sure it is fully covered.
- Leave it there for ten minutes.
- After ten minutes, take it out and squeeze a little bit to remove the extra liquid.
- Apply on the rash and keep it until it gets warm.
- Repeat the procedure to fasten the healing.
5. Cypress Essential Oil
This tree gives another powerful home remedy for poison ivy. It has antiseptic and analgesic properties, and it will soothe the itch and calm the eventual pain.
If you combine cypress essential oil with aloe vera gel, it will be very effective when the pustules break since the mixture will speed up the healing process.
6. Essential Oils Mixture
You know now that many essential oils can have beneficial effects on poison ivy rash. But think about a combination of these oils: it can have much more strength in fighting urushiol and helping you get rid of this condition fast.
To prepare a homemade tincture, you need:
- 1 drop of each peppermint, lavender, Roman chamomile and eucalyptus essential oil
- ½ tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon warm water
- Combine the ACV and water.
- Bring in the salt the salt and stir until it dissolves.
- Stir in the essential oils.
- Keep in a glass bottle and spray on the infected spots.
- If you need more of this mixture, just double the quantities.
What to Do to Prevent A Poison Ivy Rash
As we all know, it is better to prevent than to treat, that is why you should be aware of some tips & tricks to stay away from this unpleasant condition:
- The first thing you need to do is to know how the plant looks like. Search for pictures with poison ivy, poison sumac, and poison oak. Learn how they look in every season, it is critical. It is how you will know what to avoid.
- Whenever you go hiking or take a walk through the forests, make sure you stay on a clear path.
- If you want to pitch your tent, check the area for these vines. Also, take care of your pets. When they run in places where poison ivy grows, urushiol may get stuck in their fur. If this happens or if you touched the plant, make sure you carefully wash the pet’s fur and your hands within a half an hour from the exposure. It is a safe way to remove the compound from your hands.
- To prevent the rash, also check under the fingernails. If only your pet was exposed to urushiol, you need to wear gloves not to get contaminated.
- You may find poison ivy in your yard, too. To get rid of it, apply an herbicide. An alternative would be to pull the weed out of the ground but make sure you wear gloves. Destroy it afterward, but don’t even think of burning it since you may get intoxicated with urushiol from the smoke.
- Always wear appropriate clothing: long pants, socks, boots, long sleeves and even gloves when you are sure there is some plant containing the harmful resin nearby.
- After the exposure, clean any contaminated objects. Take your clothes and put them in the washing machine and use a strong detergent. Be careful when you touch the clothes because you may transfer the nasty substance to your skin or other objects in the house.
- Also look for the other items that may have touched the plants such as gardening tools, shoes or jackets you used to wear outside. Urushiol doesn’t fade away in time, so if you wear some shoes with contaminated shoelaces one year later, you may also develop the rash.
If the above home remedies do not work, you have fever or difficulty in breathing, or if you experience a severe rash, make sure you contact your doctor for an accurate treatment.