5 Remarkable Natural Remedies for How to Get Rid of Poison Ivy Rash

get rid of poison ivy rash

Scientifically known as Toxicodendron radicans(1), poison ivy is a shrub member of the cashew family and native to the northern continent of America. It flourishes on woodland edges, in plenty of sunlight and during spring and it produces green berries and green-yellow flowers.

You can easily identify this plant from its compound leaves arrangement, three leaflets that range from light to dark green. The leaves are somewhat pointed and the leaf color intensity changes depending on the seasons. It has no thorns, and while it’s not a true ivy, being a shrub, it has the ability to latch itself and “climb” on poles and trees.

Having trouble identifying poison ivy? Well, there are two common mnemonic rhyme s for you: “Leaflets three, let it be” and “hairy vine, no friend of mine. ”

Poison ivy has the potential to elicit a painful rash. The American Academy of Dermatology indicates that 85%(2) of the US population suffers an allergic reaction to poison ivy. The remaining 15% may not react to poison ivy on first exposure. However, care should be on repeated exposure as frequent contact with the plant increase the likelihood of an allergic reaction.

What causes Poison Ivy Rash? An offending resin produced by the plant is the culprit of the ensuing rash. Urushiol, as it’s referred to, is the one that provokes an allergic skin reaction either by touch, contaminated clothing, gardening tools and artefacts as well as coming into close contact with pets or animals contaminated by the resin. Exposure to the smoke of burning poison ivy can cause irritation to the respiratory system.

If you are a fan of outdoor activities like gardening and farming, landscaping, camping, shoreline fishing, hunting or working in the forestry sector, construction and communications infrastructure installation, then you are at higher risk for poison ivy exposure.

Poison ivy rash isn’t contagious through touch; however, if you don’t clean off the offending agent after exposure, then you may spread it to other parts of the body. The rash itself may spread, albeit slowly, on continual exposure to the contaminant.

Did You Know!

A blister may become infected by bacteria, especially when you scratch at it. Bacteria from your fingernails invade the blister causing it to ooze pus!

Naturopathic Remedies for Poison Ivy

Signs and Symptoms

An individual’s sensitivity to the offending agent (Urushiol) and the severity of exposure to it determine the signs and symptoms produced. A significant population may develop severe symptoms after very mild exposure. The irritation varies, but notable features are:

  • The rash is the common sign expressed as an allergic reaction and is characterized by red, intensely itchy blisters which in turn, develop into bumps with a classic linear pattern which may last for days or even weeks depending on the amount of resin exposure.
  • Multiple streaks in the area of skin in contact with the oil.
  • Swelling is common, and sometimes hives can appear.

If the area affected is large and involved in the movement, it may make it difficult to move, thereby making the problem more serious. This is most evident in people who are frequently exposed to the plant, or those working where poison ivy grows.

In rare cases, smoke inhaled from burning poison ivy brings about irritation of the eyes, respiratory airways, and lungs which may develop to serious complications(3) like obstructed breathing, choking and asthma-like symptoms.

CURE 1: Home remedies for Poison Ivy

If you have been accidentally exposed to the allergy-inducing urushiol, there are several home remedies on how to get rid of poison ivy itchy blisters.

1. Baths

Soaking baths are one of the most effective ways to provide relief from the itch and significantly take care of the blisters.

Colloidal Oatmeal Bath

Why It Works

Oatmeal(4) boasts of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory(5) properties. Soaking in a lukewarm bath with colloidal oatmeal suspension may help to soothe the incessant itching.

Finely ground oats don’t sink. Instead, it forms a colloidal suspension over the warm bath water, coating the skin. This colloidal oatmeal coat temporarily relieves the poison ivy itch. Moreover, the oatmeal will aid in drying the blisters formed.

What you need

  • A cup of powdered oatmeal.
  • Bathwater.

How to Prepare

Add the powdered oatmeal to the warm water-filled tub and soak in it for half an hour.

How Often Should You Do This?

Once a day should suffice.

[Read: Home Remedies for Poison Ivy]

2. Epsom salt for Poison Ivy

Epsom Salt
Image:ShutterStock

Why This Works

Epsom salt is imbued with magnesium, which has anti-inflammatory(6) properties. Once Magnesium is absorbed through the skin, it promoted healing and reduced itching and the formation of blisters. Epsom salt also has astringent properties that will dry out the rash.

What you need

  • A cup of Epsom salt.
  • Bathwater, to dissolve it.

How to Prepare

Add a cup of Epsom salt to your bathwater and soak in it for half an hour.

How Often Should You Do This?

Do this once daily for two weeks.

3. Jewelweed

Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis(7)), commonly known as Touch-Me-Not due to their unique action of springing open its seed pod when touched, dispersing the seed all over the place. Jewelweed is great for combating poison ivy rash. The plant’s juice aids in clearing up the rash and drying up the blisters. It also relieves itching.

Why it Works

The plant’s juice contains saponins(8) that have anti-inflammatory and astringent properties.

What you will need

  • Jewelweed leaves and stem.
  • Pestle and Mortar.

What you’ll do

Crush the jewelweed leaves and stem in the mortar with a pestle to obtain a thick paste. Apply this paste over the affected area and let it dry over it. Once dries, wash off with water.

How often should you do this?

Apply this natural remedy for poison ivy twice daily for a week

3. Banana Peel

Banana Peel
Image:ShutterStock

Perhaps you have been told to avoid banana peels due to their slipperiness. However, you may want to distance yourself from this notion as banana peels aid in relieving itchiness. The “meat” on the inside of the banana peel quickly alleviates itching and has been employed as a remedy for poison ivy for years.

Banana peel clears up the rash within a few days of application. However, you’ll first have to remove the offending resin with soap or alcohol then consider applying the banana peel.

Why this Works

Imbued with antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory(9) properties, a banana peel will soothe the itching and reduce the ensuing inflammation, and further protect your skin against microbial infection.

What you will need

A banana peel

How often should you do this?

Apply this remedy two to three times a day for a week

4. Toothpaste

This common bathroom item has earned its place in the halls of natural remedy. Toothpaste has been recommended for most home remedies involving skin bites and outbreaks.

Why it Works

Toothpaste, more so the mint flavoured ones have displayed exceptional soothing and cooling abilities. Moreover, the glycerine compound in the toothpaste has astringent properties, drying up the blisters, speeding up the healing process. Toothpaste also reduces inflammation.

What you’ll need

A tube of toothpaste (mint-flavoured).

What you’ll do

Squeeze a little amount of toothpaste over your fingers and dab it gently over the affected areas. Let it dry and once dry, wash off with clean water.

How often should you do this?

Apply this treatment two to three times daily until the rash disappears.

5. Bleach

Common household bleach can be of great assistance in-home treatment of poison ivy rash. Bleach contains the active ingredient, Chlorine, which is a disinfectant and an astringent element.

Why This Works

Being a disinfectant and an astringent element, it’ll dry out the rash and remove any traces of urushiol.

What you need

  • A quarter cup household bleach.
  • Bathwater.

How to Prepare

Dilute the bleach to your bath water and soak for half an hour.

[Read: Treat Poison Ivy with Bleach]

How often should you do this?

As soon as you come into contact with the poison ivy plant for optimal results. However, caution should be observed if you have sensitive skin as this remedy will cause a burning sensation.

Soaking baths are not only relaxing but also will provide relief against the poison ivy rash. These baths will reduce the inflammation and when employed frequently, will dry out the blisters with time. Moreover, soaking in a bath will get rid of the offending resin.

In reducing potential inflammation, baking soda and Apple Cider Vinegar have been recommended.

6. Aloe vera for poison ivy

aloe vera
Image: ShutterStock

Why This Works

Aloe Vera(10) promotes faster healing of bruises and soothing blisters(11) with its natural healing capabilities. It has antimicrobial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory(12) properties. All of these features are essential if you want to get rid of poison ivy rash.

What you need

Aloe Vera Leaf (to obtain the Gel) or commercial Aloe vera gel.

What to do

Take a little bit of Aloe Vera gel and apply on the affected area, allow it to dry. Reapply as required.

How often should you do this?

Apply multiple times in a day for a week.

7. Baking soda for poison ivy

Baking soda is a common household component commonly found in your kitchen cabinets. Aside from its use in baking, it can also be employed as a natural remedy for poison ivy rash.

Why this Works

Baking soda has alkaline chemical properties. Its high pH neutralizes the low pH brought about by the allergic reaction (acidic). Neutralization of the acid restores the skin pH to normal, promoting faster healing of the rash. In addition, baking soda has antibacterial properties(13) that’ll prevent any infection from microbes.

What you need

  • Baking soda (two teaspoons).
  • Water (two glasses).
  • Sterile cotton gauze.

What you’ll do

Mix the baking powder with water and soak the sterile cotton gauze in it. Place them directly over the rashes and let it sit for fifteen minutes. Remove and clean the area with clean water.

[Read: Baking Soda for Poison Ivy Rash]

How often should you do this?

Apply this mixture on the affected area three or four times daily for a week.

Baking soda is a multipurpose product. It is used for removing stubborn stains on furniture and clothes and strong odours from your fridge. It is also used to make toothpaste!

8. Apple cider vinegar for poison ivy

apple cider vinegar benefits
Image:ShutterStock

Why this Works

Apple Cider vinegar’s(14) anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties have been exploited well enough in antiquity. It is only prudent that we employ its use to cure poison ivy rash.

What you need

  • Apple cider vinegar (two tablespoons).
  • A glass of water.
  • Sterile cotton gauze.

What you’ll do

Mix the apple cider vinegar with water and soak the sterile cotton gauze in it. Place them directly over the rashes and let it sit for fifteen minutes. Remove and clean the area with clean water.

How often should you do this?

Follow this natural cure for poison ivy two to three times daily for a week.

[Read: Apple Cider Vinegar for Poison]

9. Calamine Lotion

Another long-preferred cure for poison ivy is Calamine lotion. Calamine soothes and has a cooling effect on the inflamed skin and dries up blisters, and it also provides relief to the itch.

Why It Works

Calamine lotion contains zinc oxide and other components. Zinc oxide is an anti-itch compound and according to the FDA, prevents blisters from oozing.   Calamine lotion also has skin protecting and astringent properties that relieve poison ivy itching. This ointment also is a bacteriostatic agent, i. e. , slows down bacterial growth, thereby making it easy to manage the bacterial infection and prevent it from worsening further.

What you need

Calamine ointment.

How to Use

Apply ointment on affected area topically. Gently massage to ensure absorption.

How often should you use?

Apply the ointment every six to eight hours as recommended.

According to the FDA, products containing zinc oxide, zinc acetate, and zinc carbonate, better treat the oozing of blisters caused by poison ivy.

Back To TOC

CURE 2: Essential oils for Poison Ivy

Carrier and essential oils are popular in the dermatology industry. Rich in vitamins and other essential components for skincare, it is only natural that they have their own slot as one of the natural cures for poison ivy. Here are the best oils for poison ivy rash treatment.

1. Tea tree oil for poison ivy

tea tree oil
Image:ShutterStock

You won’t fail to come across Tea tree oil whilst searching the internet for natural remedies for skin conditions. A native plant to Australia, Tea tree oil is an effective essential oil in dermatology and in the treatment of most skin-related conditions.

A 2013 review suggested it as a natural remedy for dermatitis. Tea tree oil has also been attributed to relieving itching and the faster healing up of wounds, and therein rashes and blisters. Tea tree oil is indeed an excellent addition to your medicine cabinet.

Why it Works

Tea tree oil contains anti-inflammatory(15) and antimicrobial(16) properties. It’ll, therefore, reduce inflammation and further prevent bacterial infection of the blisters. Moreover, it is rich in Vitamin E, which promotes faster healing of the scarred area.

What you will need

  • Three drops of Tea Tree oil.
  • One tablespoon of Coconut or Olive Oil (Carrier Oil).

What you’ll do

Add three drops of tea tree oil to the carrier oil to dilute it and mix well. Apply this mixture on the scarred area and let it sit for 20 minutes. Take a bath afterwards.

How often should you do this?

Do this treatment once a day for a week.

[Read: Essential Oils for Poison Ivy]

2. Peppermint Oil

Another essential oil imbued with super healing abilities it peppermint oil. Its minty fragrance is also something to marvel upon, similar to lavender and myrrh. According to a 2012 study(17), peppermint oil was shown to reduce symptoms of itchy skin common in pregnant women.

Why it Works

Peppermint oil possesses both analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, it contains antioxidants and the active phytochemical menthol, which with its cooling effect, soothes the inflamed rash.

What You Will Need

  • 3-4 drops of peppermint oil
  • One tablespoon of coconut or jojoba oil (Carrier Oil)

What You Have To Do

Add 3-4 drops of tea tree oil to the carrier oil to dilute it and mix well. Apply this mixture on the scarred area and let it sit for 20 minutes. Wash off with water.

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How to get rid of moles

How Often Should You do this?

Apply this treatment twice daily for two weeks

3. Coconut oil for poison ivy

Coconut Oil
Image:ShutterStock

Another great addition to the list of oils is Coconut oil. Coconut oil is a carrier oil and is relatively safe to use for all ages and all skin types. Coconut oil facilitates rapid healing and rejuvenation of damaged skin.

Why this Works

Coconut oil is imbued with analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties. All these natural attributes(18) aid in soothing pain, relieving itchiness and speeding up recovery.

What You Will Need

Coconut oil (as required).

What You Have To Do

Swipe a little bit of coconut oil with your fingers and apply on the affected area. Massage gently to promote faster absorption. Let it sit.

How Often Should You Do This?

Apply coconut oil to damaged skin two to three times daily for one week.

4. Lemon Oil

Another great natural poison ivy reaction treatment is Lemon Oil. Made from mixing lemon juice, a natural astringent, with a carrier oil it joins the fold as a poison ivy home remedy. Lemon oil is to be applied immediately after poison ivy contact and dissolve the urushiol before it has time to seep into your skin.

Why it Works

Lemon juice(19) is acidic in nature, drying up your blistered skin. It is also a rich source of Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) which is a natural anti-inflammatory agent. Combined with a carrier oil, e. g. coconut oil, their independent properties work synergistically to reduce itching, inflammation, swelling and further assist in skin repair and rejuvenation.

What You Will Need

  • One teaspoon of lemon juice.
  • One tablespoon of any carrier oil (coconut or olive oil).

What You Have To Do

Mix one teaspoon of lemon juice to 1 tablespoon of carrier oil and mix well. Apply this mixture on the scarred area and let it sit for 20 minutes. Wash off with water.

How Often Should You Do This?

Apply this treatment twice daily for a week.

5. Neem Oil

neem oil
Image:ShutterStock

Why This Works

Neem oil(20) is an antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and promotes wound healing. In addition, its antimicrobial properties render bacteria inactive, protecting against infections. Neem natural anti-histamine properties further work against poison ivy itching. Neem oil is safe for children and adults alike.

What You Will Need

  • One teaspoon of Neem oil.
  • Any carrier oil (optional).

What You Have To Do

Take a little Neem oil with your fingers and apply on the affected area. Massage gently to promote faster absorption. Wash off with water. If your skin is too sensitive, you can mix the Neem oil with a carrier oil to dilute it.

How often should you do this?

Apply this treatment once or twice daily for a week.

Tips for Preventing Poison Ivy Rashes

In any medical case, prevention is always better than cure. As such, it would be ideal and more logical to limit exposure to poison ivy at the least. Here are some tips to prevent any contact with the poisonous plant:

  • Avoid Poison Ivy and Poison Oak plants.

It is prudent that you are able to identify the plant itself in all seasons since it tends to change. Not only must you know how to identify poison ivy, but also poison oak and poison sumac, as these also elicit similar reactions.

When undertaking outdoor activities like camping, hiking or gardening that may expose you to these poisonous plants, try to steer clear of them. In addition, keep your pets on a leash, to prevent them from running off into the woods so that the poison ivy resin doesn’t stick to their fur.

Urushiol elicits an allergic reaction only in humans.

  • Physically remove or kill the plant.

If your yard is infested with the plant, you can get rid of it to prevent any accidental exposure. Apply a herbicide or uproot it from the ground, while wearing appropriate protective gloves. Once done, wash the gloves thoroughly as well as your hands. Do not burn poison ivy as the resin can turn into vapour and directly affect your respiratory system.

  • Wash your skin or give your pet a bath.

If exposed, don’t panic, urushiol is a slow-acting agent. You can wash the dangerous resin off your skin within 30 minutes of exposure. Use soap and warm water and remember to scrub under your fingernails. Washing after exposure helps prevent the onset of a rash and subsequently the severity of the effects.

If you suspect your pet may have been contaminated, put on some heavy long rubber gloves and give your pet a thorough scrubbing.

  • Clean contaminated objects.

Wash any object suspected of being contaminated by the poison ivy resin. These include clothes, tools and equipment. Use warm water and detergent to clean the resin off. Clothes can be washed in a washing machine. Handle the cleaning carefully to prevent further contamination of the urushiol.

  • Get a barrier cream.

There are numerous skin products available that will provide a barrier preventing direct contact with the oily resin.

  • Always wear protective clothing when performing Outdoor Activities.

It is always recommended that you suit up with protective gear when undertaking any outdoor project or activity. Protect your exposed skin by wearing socks, long sleeves, boots, pants and rubber or vinyl gloves. These are basic and paramount precautions that’ll not only help you avoid contagion from poisonous flora but also insects and bugs.

Always be cautious of your surroundings, and if you are unfortunate, any of the aforementioned natural remedies on how to heal poison ivy will help.


FAQs

1. How long does it take for poison ivy rash to appear?

Poison ivy resin can enter your skin within minutes (5-10 minutes) of contact. However, since it is slow-acting, it may take longer for the rash to manifest.

2. How long does it take for a poison ivy rash to go away?

Most cases of poison ivy die out on their own, usually, after a week, some may last longer, up to 3 weeks. The blisters first dry up, and the rash fades afterwards. Severe allergic cases tend to last longer, and elicit worst symptoms and have the rashes cover most of your body. Severe cases may last up to a month.

3. Does poison ivy rash spread from person to person?

A poison ivy rash itself isn’t contagious since the blister fluid doesn’t contain the resin urushiol. The only way to get the rash is getting in direct contact with the resin or contamination of resin embedded clothing or items.

4. What to do for poison ivy rash?

You won’t have to see a doctor in case of a poison ivy rash, but if you do visit a physician they’ll diagnose it by looking at it, and no medical tests will be performed. However, if you are experiencing severe allergic reactions or if you have inhaled the resin from a burning plant and is affecting your ability to breath, a visit to the doctor would be paramount.

5. What can I do if poison ivy gets in my eyes?

The best advice is to seek medical attention as soon as possible once poison ivy gets on your face or eyes and manifest through swelling. Apply general first aid if it enters your eyes directly and proceeds to the doctor immediately.

The eyes are vital organs that are highly sensitive, and care must be ensured that they don’t get damaged. Your ophthalmologist may prescribe an antihistamine, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory eye drops to reduce the swelling and itching. Cold compresses can be soothing for inflamed eyelids.

6. Will it hurt if I apply alcohol to a poison ivy rash?

Alcohol is an astringent and ideal for poison ivy rash as it promotes faster healing. However, a slight tingling sensation may be felt.

Home remedies are incredibly powerful and provide excellent results when one wants to remove poison ivy rashes. The aforementioned natural remedies serve to provide sweet relief to the nasty inflammation and blister discomfort. If poison ivy symptoms persist, more so the rash, ensure you visit your physician for an assessment and medical opinion.

In most instances, poison ivy cases are treated with NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs) and sometimes Steroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs like prednisone, which has potential side effects that include psychosis, depression, blurred vision, rapid weight gain, loss of concentration, insomnia among other side effects. It would, therefore, be best to avoid such extremes and try to manage the spread of poison ivy by employing natural remedies mentioned above. Homeopathic remedies for poison ivy work effectively to alleviate poison ivy irritation.

Have you ever used some of these natural remedies? Do you have new ones that you can add to the list? Please let us know.

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