Poison ivy is one of many “poisonous” plants known to cause reactions in humans. The rash that poison ivy plants produce is caused by contact with one of its volatile oils called urushiol. (1) All parts of the plant can contain this oil and are considered poisonous. This includes roots, leaves, flowers, berries, stems and vines. Those affected with the rash should know the key poison ivy treatment methods and home remedies for poison ivy.
Poison Ivy Symptoms
Symptoms of a poison ivy rash, or other poison ivy reactions may include more than just intense itching. A red rash on the skin that might appear with yellow, inflamed patches. Multiple blisters on the skin, some of which can be small or others very big, typically blisters. The blisters develop in patches or straight lines following a path where the oil was rubbed against the skin. If the rash becomes very bad the blisters can sometimes open and start oozing fluid.
Once the rash starts to heal, a scab usually forms — healed skin might become dry and appear a different shade than the rest of the skin. Fortunately, the poison ivy rash itself isn’t contagious. It cannot be spread from body part to body part or from person to person.
Home Remedies for Poison Ivy
The poison ivy treatments below can help keep you protected from developing a poison ivy rash in the first place. These home remedies for poison ivy can also lower the severity of symptoms you experience.
In fact, these simple methods of poison ivy treatment can even reduce itchiness. These home remedies for posion ivy include boosting overall immune function. By doing this, even before exposure to poison ivy, you’ll improve your healing capability.
1. Prevent a Rash By Recognizing Poison Ivy
Recognizing what poison ivy plants look like and avoiding exposure is the first step in preventing a poison ivy rash.
Poison ivy plants have three leaves and tend to be shiny and medium-sized. Some people like to remember the common phrase, “Leaves of three, let it be.” The leaves are usually bright green but can also have shades of red or yellow.
Poison ivy is capable of growing in many climates and is found across the U.S. The plant tends to grow in places like the edges of trails, streets or gardens. It can also be found on golf courses, campsites, near the beach, hiking trails, and on the side of dirt roads.
It can appear as either a small vine or a small shrub, which means it’s sometimes on the ground but also up higher. Its base/trunk tends to grow tiny hairs on it, which means it’s a good idea to look over a whole plant if you suspect poison ivy.
2. Wash Your Hands and Shower Right Away
It is most important to wash your hands or body with strong soap and water immediately after being exposed to poison ivy. This can help remove the oil and lower your risk for having a reaction. The key is to do this as soon as possible. The more time the oil has to linger on your skin, the higher the chances are that a poison ivy rash will develop.
Don’t use a washcloth when washing or drying your hands. The poison ivy’s oil can sometimes make its way onto the cloth and remain there. Be sure to wash under your fingernails where the oil can be tough to get out.
Hand soap, body wash, soap, and even laundry detergent typically work well enough to cleanse the oil. Washing your hands is an essential first step in poison ivy treatment.
3. Wear Gloves When Gardening, And Wash Them!
Unfortunately, poison ivy’s oils can actually penetrate latex gloves.
Thankfully, for some people wearing gloves is enough to prevent a reaction. Gardening gloves are a recommended precaution from potential reactions. Be sure to wash them thoroughly afterward with soap and water.
Remember, the oil can linger on unwashed gloves or other equipment for weeks. You should be careful to wash everything that might have been exposed to the plant.
This process also goes goes your clothes, socks and even shoes. Make sure to wash anything right away that was exposed, as the oil can spread to clothing. (2) It’s best to retrace your footsteps and wash over any surface that might have been rubbed with the oil. Clean off doorknobs, gardening tools, your hose or sink faucet.
4. Apply a Cool Compress to the Rash
Experts recommend using a cool compress on the skin over areas where blisters are present. This is especially effective if you add compounds that can help control the rash, including lavender oil.
Here’s one of the best home remedies for poison ivy. You can wet a small towel or a pillowcase in cold water or wrap it around ice. Gently press it against inflamed skin for 15–20 minutes at a time. Apply this compress up to several times a day if needed, ideally about every three to four hours.
Many people in the course of poison ivy treatment soak their compresses in solutions that can ease swelling. Apple cider vinegar and brewed or chilled black tea can help soothe suffering. This is due to their tannins and other compounds that lower inflammatory reactions. Aluminum acetate is another compound people use in their home remedies for poison ivy.
5. Use Natural Anti-Itch Solutions and Natural Antihistamines
While itching your rash won’t cause a poison ivy rash to spread, it’s likely to increase itchiness and irritation. Therefore, it’s recommended you leave any affected skin alone. Instead of itching, apply natural solutions to the skin to help ease inflammation.
Herbal supplements and products that can help ease itchiness and rashes include the following.
You can find bottles of this plant online. It contains an essential oil that lowers many plant poison reactions. Witch hazel is used in a similar way to treat skin and may be more readily available than jewelweed.
Echinacea can be taken in supplement form or used as a tincture to lower histamine reactions. Mix one part echinacea (tincture form) with three parts water. Then apply the mixture to the skin several times per day with a compress. This is one of the simplest home remedies for poison ivy.
It’s easy to make an anti-itch cream using this clay. It’s a great a poison ivy home treatment which helps dry up blisters and reduces swelling. Apply a small amount to the affected area, let it dry until it forms flakes and then gently rinse with water.
Colloidal oatmeal (or regular oatmeal)
You can soothe yourself by soaking in a bath with colloidal oatmeal, which can soothe blisters. Oatmeal contains substances, including avenanthramides and phenols, that have anti-inflammatory properties and help relieve itchiness. You can also use regular oatmeal to make a bath if you can’t find colloidal oatmeal online or in drug store. (3)
Topically applying essential oils for allergies like geranium, rose, helichrysum and lavender can improve rashes by lowering inflammation. Simply add three drops of oil to a compress and apply to the area three times daily. If you have sensitive skin, you can mix three drops with a half teaspoon of coconut oil to further dilute it and reduce its strength.
Some people also find that taking supplements are another one of the best home remedies for poison ivy. Vitamin B12, stinging nettle, quercetin (an antioxidant) and vitamin C can help control symptoms by boosting overall immunity.