Before you run to the doctor, there are some natural remedies for poison ivy that work really well and can save you an office visit.
Poison Ivy is the common name for an allergic reaction caused by poison ivy plants.
An oily substance called urushiol on the surfaces of the plant causes an allergic reaction in most people that leads to a rash, itching, blisters, redness, and swelling of the skin in the exposed area.
In most cases, symptoms will go away on their own within 1-3 weeks, but in the meantime, it can be very painful for the affected person, and some natural remedies may help alleviate symptoms.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a remedy that has been used for a long time to treat many different conditions naturally.
Many people have said that it can provide relief for poison ivy rashes as well, as the acidity is thought to dry up the urushiol that causes the rash.
You can use apple cider vinegar in a variety of ways, but always make sure to dilute it down with equal parts water to avoid skin irritation.
Once diluted, apple cider vinegar can be used in a cold compress, applied by a cotton ball, or sprayed onto the rash.
Oatmeal is a common ingredient in many lotions and creams, and for a good reason.
The starch in oats can protect the skin and keep moisture in (6). This is helpful for poison ivy in order to prevent it from getting as dry and itchy.
The most common way to use oatmeal as a treatment for poison ivy is by putting oats or an oatmeal-based bath product into a bath of cool water and soaking the affected area.
3. Baking Soda
Baking soda is used to help a variety of skin conditions due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Reducing the inflammation of a poison ivy rash can reduce itching and help soothe the area.
To use baking soda on the rash, try mixing the baking soda with just enough water to form a paste, and spread it on the affected area.
4. Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol can be very effective for poison ivy, particularly if used shortly after exposure to the plant.
Alcohols are good for dissolving oils, so rubbing alcohol is believed to be a great way to get the oily urushiol that is causing the reaction off of the skin.
The most common way to use this method is by soaking a cotton ball with the alcohol and applying it to the rash. Otherwise, a rubbing alcohol rinse would work as well.
However, the longer it has been since exposure, the less effective rubbing alcohol will be to treat the reaction.
5. Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera gel, harvested from the leaves of an aloe vera plant, can be a great alternative to chemical-filled creams and lotions.
The gel is commonly used to help with sunburn because of its moisturizing and cooling effects on the skin.
Gently rubbing the gel onto a poison ivy rash can help ease symptoms significantly by soothing inflammation and preventing dryness that can cause excessive itching.
6. Bentonite Clay
Bentonite clay is a natural clay commonly found in many beauty products. It works by absorbing oils from the skin, and may absorb the urushiol that causes the allergic reaction to poison ivy, since urushiol is an oil.
Many say that the clay can alleviate and reduce symptoms of a poison ivy rash when applied as a paste with water to the area.
7. Cold Compress
A cold compress can be effective at cooling irritation and itchiness of poison ivy. The cool water soothes the skin and helps alleviate symptoms.
To use a cold compress, simply soak a clean rag in cool water and apply it to the area.
Mixing other remedies such as essential oils with the cool water can be helpful as well.
8. Soap and water
This method works particularly well if it is used shortly after exposure to the poison ivy plant.
Simply washing the exposed area with soap and lukewarm water could get the oily urushiol off of the skin before it has time to penetrate and cause a rash.
9. Witch Hazel
Witch hazel is a product used for many health and beauty related conditions. It is a natural astringent, which can work exceptionally well to dry up blisters on the skin and promote healing while reducing itching.
Witch hazel can be applied easily with a cotton ball to the rash several times a day to promote healing.
Cucumbers are known for their cooling and soothing effects on the skin.
They are commonly used to reduce redness and inflammation, so they can also be used to soothe poison ivy rash and reduce the inflammation that causes a lot of itching and pain related to the reaction.
Cucumber slices can be placed directly on the skin or applied in any other way that works for the individual.
Essential oils can also be used to help soothe and relieve symptoms of the skin reaction caused by poison ivy.
Essential oils should always be diluted before use, as they are very potent and strong, and they can irritate the skin if used improperly.
They can be diluted in water and mixed well, or dissolved in a carrier oil such as grapeseed oil or jojoba oil to dilute them to a safe concentration for use.
Calendula is another name for marigold, a common golden-yellow flower that has soothing properties.
It may help soothe the itching and burning sensations related to the poison ivy rash.
Chamomile is known to be calming when used in teas and other foods and drinks. Similarly, chamomile can also be calming to the skin to soothe inflammation. It works very similarly to calendula.
Eucalyptus oil is found in a Eucalyptus tree native to Australia.
The oil is known to rehydrate skin, which helps the dryness a rash might have during later stages of poison ivy.
Rehydrating the skin with this oil may soothe the itching caused by this dryness.
Juniper oil is another plant oil that can be helpful for rashes due to its antimicrobial properties.
This can help to prevent infection of the area and keep it clean and less inflamed.
Lavender oil is a popular essential oil, mainly due to the soothing scent it carries.
However, lavender oil also has anti-inflammatory properties and pain-relieving properties as well.
This makes it great for soothing inflamed and painful rashes like those caused by poison ivy.
Myrrh oil comes from the resin of some trees, and also helps to calm inflammation and soothe pain, much like lavender oil.
Myrrh has been used for a long time to soothe painful skin conditions and may be very helpful.
Peppermint oil is a well-known essential oil with a very familiar minty scent.
Like lavender and myrrh, peppermint oil also works to soothe inflammation and pain from skin rashes such as poison ivy. It is also very helpful to reduce itching significantly.
8. Tea Tree
Tea tree oil is commonly used for many skin conditions and beauty treatments.
It is an effective treatment for inflammation of the skin, and can also promote healing and relieve the itchiness of poison ivy rashes.
Pine oil is commonly used in many topical poison ivy treatments, along with other products from pine plants.
Pine oil is said to have strong wound-healing properties which may help heal poison ivy rashes faster than other methods.
Many people say vinegar can be used to actually kill poison ivy plants, but is that true?
Or is it just a too-good-to-be-true myth that these pesky plants could possibly be killed without harsh chemicals?
Turns out, vinegar can be used to kill the poison ivy plants that may be near your home, but not just plain vinegar.
A poison ivy killing spray can be made at home using the simple ingredients of salt, vinegar, and dish soap.
To make this spray, follow the following steps:
Be aware that when using this method, it will kill any vegetation that is sprayed.
Therefore, it is important to use caution when spraying, and only spray the unwanted plants.
Once the poison ivy is dead, the urushiol can still be present, and it can still cause a reaction, so when removing the dead ivy, it is advisable to exercise caution and wear disposable gloves.
Many people say that hot water is great for poison ivy rashes. It is believed to help wash away the urushiol before a rash appears and stop the itch once the reaction is already occurring.
However, hot water is actually not a good method of prevention or treatment for poison ivy.
Hot water works to open up the pores in the skin. When there is urushiol on the skin, this helps the urushiol penetrate deeper and cause a worse reaction.
Also, once the reaction is underway, heat can worsen the inflammation of the reaction. It is best to use cool to lukewarm water in order to avoid these adverse effects.
In general these remedies for poison ivy work. But a poison ivy rash can be expected to go away on its own within 1-3 weeks after the rash first appears on the skin.
However, certain complications can occasionally occur, and some of these should be checked by a doctor. Be sure to see a doctor if you notice any of the following:
These symptoms may indicate a severe reaction or an infection of the skin. If you notice any of the above symptoms, contact a doctor right away.
Poison ivy can be a nuisance in the lives of many people.
Although it may seem as though the only solutions are full of chemicals and harmful substances, there are many natural remedies that are worth a try.
The remedies above may offer significant pain relief without all of the harsh chemicals.