Home remedies for poison ivy rash are often safer and more effective than treating poison ivy with store-bought remedies. Also, knowing how to treat poison ivy can save you precious time and money by helping you avoid costly doctor appointments.
If you spend any time outdoors like we do, chances are high you will encounter poison ivy at some point.
A high majority of people are sensitive to the sticky odorless sap that is secreted out of the poison ivy leaves. This allergic reaction is called contact dermatitis.
Poison Ivy Rash is the most common allergic reaction in the U.S. and affects as many as 50 million Americans a year. (source)
The oily resin that causes the rash is called urushiol and sticks to clothing, skin, pets and outdoor equipment.
Coming in contact with the resin causes an itchy red rash that can quickly spread, appearing roughly 12 to 72 hours after exposure to the plant.
The poison ivy rash can be a really nasty, life-consuming thing when it hits so it's crucial to know how to treat poison ivy at home to avoid both complications and also time-consuming and expensive runs to the doctor.
Here are some tips to help you know what to do for poison ivy–how to spot the signs and symptoms of poison ivy rash, how to avoid getting a poison ivy rash in the first place, and loads of natural remedies for poison ivy rash.
Signs and Symptoms of a Poison Ivy Rash
Here are a few things to look for if you have been outside and think you were exposed.
- Clusters of Blisters
If you think you may have a poison ivy rash, there are lots of natural remedies for poison ivy that can not only reduce your itching but also help the rash clear up faster.
Learning how to treat poison ivy at home keeps it from getting out of control.
My husband used to get poison ivy every year and it was miserable. Him being miserable is one thing, but the fear of the itching and oozing extending to the whole family is something else entirely!
Thankfully, I have a lot of home remedies for poison ivy in my arsenal now so it doesn't spread to the other family members.
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Home Remedies for Poison Ivy Rash
Baking soda is cheap and has hundreds of uses including being one of the best home remedies for poison ivy. Try soaking in a tub of warm water with 1/2 to 1 cup of baking soda.
You can also make a paste using a few teaspoons of baking soda and a little water. Apply to the rash as often as needed to reduce swelling and dry up blisters.
Baking soda is my go-to natural remedy for poison ivy and bee stings. It does such a great job of drying up any blisters and it doesn't sting.
With the cost of baking soda being so low, it's always something I keep in the house for all kinds of uses. Baking soda is even a surprisingly-great natural beauty ingredient.
Using Himalayan salt (not table salt) can help reduce the swelling of poison ivy. Salt is a natural cleanser and helps dry up blisters by pulling extra liquid and toxins out of the skin.
Himalayan salt can be added to a bath for soaking with your favorite essential oil (see below why tea tree oil and lavender might be good options). Be sure to properly emulsify the essential oil first, however. Try adding 1/2 a cup of salt to your bath water for the itching relief of a warm salt bath.
A cold compress will reduce the redness, swelling, and itching of a poison ivy rash. Cold temperatures on the skin for short periods of time have been shown to boost the immune system and increase collagen production as well.
You can add a soothing essential oil such as lavender to help reduce inflammation even further.
If your poison ivy rash is localized to a few places, making a paste out of bentonite clay can bring great relief. This clay is filled with over 50 minerals from the earth and has a unique ability to pull and draw, so it's perfect for drying up a poison ivy rash.
Simply make a paste with the bentonite clay and water and apply.
Try making a wet compress using apple cider vinegar for your poison ivy rash.
Apple cider vinegar has natural antibiotic properties and helps to not only cleanse the skin but also dry up any blisters.
If you have open sores and raw skin, be sure to dilute apple cider vinegar before applying.
Drying up blisters from poison ivy can help the rash resolve faster. Tea tree oil is perfect for this, and it is also a great antibacterial oil and disarms the resin that irritates the skin.
We personally prefer tea tree oil as one of our favorite home remedies for poison ivy. Open blisters also create opportunities for infection and tea tree oil will kill off any bacteria that has been festering.
Make sure to dilute the tea tree oil appropriately before applying to skin as is the case with all essential oils.
Witch hazel extract is distilled from Hamamelis virginiana and is an effective natural remedy for poison ivy. It reduces itching and inflammation, and encourages the healing of the blisters.
Keep an eye on the ingredient list, though, and try to get as pure of a witch hazel as possible.
Crush up aspirin into a powder and make a paste with a little water or witch hazel for your poison ivy rash. The salicylic acid speeds up the healing process to dry up blisters and reduce swelling.
Since aspirin and witch hazel are both great natural remedies for poison ivy, combining them makes a great poison ivy treatment.
This herb is one of the best natural remedies for poison ivy. It is great for breaking up the sticky oil residue and reducing swelling. It’s a common plant found growing around water.
Simply crush up the leaves of the Jewelweed plant and make a poultice to apply to the rash a few times a day. If you are unable to access a jewelweed plant, a good alternative is organic jewelweed glycerite.
Cucumber slices are a great natural remedy for poison ivy. You can also blend up cucumbers and place the mash on the affected skin for a cooling result.
Here's one that any fruit lover will be happy about. Grab some bananas at the store and, after enjoying some, use the inside of the peel to cool your poison ivy rash. Please do wash the bananas first (especially if they're not organic) since there are some really nasty chemicals used on bananas while they are growing. Ick.
Oatmeal is known for being soothing to troubled skin and it's super simple to make an oatmeal bath. Simply grind 1 cup oatmeal in a blender, food processor, or spice grinder until it's a fine powder.
Pour the oatmeal into your bathtub and fill the tub with warm water.
Stir and relax in the tub for about 20-30 minutes. Alternatively, make a paste with the powdered oatmeal and apply directly to skin for another great poison ivy rash treatment. Oatmeal is also great for relieving the itch of eczema and other skin conditions.
Please use organic oatmeal since oats are one of the foods most contaminated with glyphosate.
Just as aloe vera is known for soothing the skin after a sunburn and soothing the digestive tract, the gel from an aloe vera plant is a great natural remedy for poison ivy. Just break open a plant and apply the gel directly to the skin from the leaf or use a store-bought aloe vera gel.
Lemon juice is a natural astringent and removes oil from the skin. Apply soon after the poison ivy rash develops to prevent spreading.
Simply running water over the poison ivy rash is a great (and frugal!) way to provide relief.
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) is an herb that is commonly used to treat skin disorders as it has anti-inflammatory properties, but it's also antibacterial so it's fantastic for preventing infections from poison ivy. Simply mix powdered goldenseal root with filtered water to make a paste and apply to the affected area. Drinking goldenseal tea or taking a goldenseal supplement is a way to encourage healing from the inside out.
Use A Washcloth
Urushiol oil is similar in texture to motor oil except it's clear and you can't see it on your skin. After spending time outdoors, simply scrubbing your exposed skin with a washcloth and soap can remove the oil. It's the friction of the washcloth that does a great job of lifting the oil off of your skin.
Next time your washing up after going outside, remembering to grab a washcloth and use friction instead of just washing your hands and arms with soap alone.
No, that's not a typo! Would you–could you?
So I know it sounds crazy to have pee on the list of home remedies for poison ivy, but bear with me. Urine has been used as an ear infection remedy and wart remedy before so I looked online to see what people were saying about pee and poison ivy. Turns out, it's a thing.
Urine is acidic and sterile (at least it is when it is in the body, and you can always use a sanitary wipe if you are concerned about that) so it makes a good choice for treating poison ivy rash. Considering its properties it should be effective for drying up any blisters. I personally haven't tried this home remedy (not yet, at least!) but if you think you are brave enough…go for it. It's free and readily available.
The Best Home Remedies for Poison Ivy Rash
With having 4 children in my home, knowing how to treat poison ivy right when I see it is crucial. Can you imagine 4 kids and 2 adults oozing and itching? Not pretty!
In my opinion, the best home remedies for poison ivy are baking soda and tea tree oil. They both dry up the poison ivy really well, assisting in healing.
Poison Ivy Prevention
Knowing how to treat poison ivy is one thing, but poison ivy prevention tips can help keep you from even getting poison ivy in the first place.
Do you have plans for camping, landscaping, or tromping through the woods? Spending time outdoors is vital for healthy living.
You don't have to cancel your fun outdoor plans. By taking simple precautions you can prevent an allergic reaction for you and your family.
As a mom, I know how to treat poison ivy for my family but I also know preventing exposure is vital when we are out having fun.
Recognize the plant
The old saying “Leaves of 3, let them be” still rings true. Poison ivy leaves are made up of 3 pointed leaf clusters with a glossy surface and can be found all throughout the United States.
This plant loves to grow around edges, vine up trees or take over old landscaping.
Leaves have a glossy surface and can look red in the spring and fall, and green in the summer. Mature plants can have clusters of green or white berries.
Some plants have notched leaf edges while others are smooth. Poison ivy can grow as a vine or as a bush depending on the species.
Poison ivy rash isn't contagious. Rather, it's transferred by the sticky urushiol resin secreted from the plant. So if you touch something that has the resin on it, then you can catch it.
Even your pet can spread the resin as it easily sticks to fur. Don't forget to bathe your pet if it has spent time in unfamiliar bushes or woods.
You can use clothing as a barrier. If you know you will be spending time in the outdoors hiking, landscaping, or camping, wear long sleeves and pants to keep the resin from getting on your skin.
We are a hiking family so it's long thin pants when we spend time outdoors in the woods.
I love thin breathable cotton. It will keep us cool in hot weather and it also helps to prevent sunburn. Gloves, shoes, and socks are also a smart choice if you will be removing old plants, mowing a field, or trimming bushes.
Showering with hot soapy water immediately can rinse off any resin you may have encountered while outside. It also helps to prevent the sticky oil from spreading to the rest of your family members.
Immediately launder any clothing that you either wore or that could have been exposed to the plant so it doesn't contaminate your furniture or loved ones.
Wash gardening tools and outdoor equipment after use in unkempt landscaping.
I hope these tips help you avoid the mess that poison ivy can be. Knowing how to treat poison ivy and using these home remedies for poison ivy is the best defense!
What Home Remedies for Poison Ivy have you used?
Amanda is a health coach and is passionate about healing from the inside out. She blogs at Bliss Health Coaching with a focus on the gut-brain connection and how it impacts our entire body. She is intrigued by the use of plants for health purposes and her love of research has landed her in a position to help people feel alive and full of energy.