Poison ivy is one of the most uncomfortable rashes there is. If you’ve ever been unlucky enough to experience it, you’ll know the rash comes with lots of itching and irritability. The poison ivy plant has three almond-shaped leaflets, so if you see leaves of three, let it be. The leaves are typically anywhere from 1” to 5” long and often feature fine reddish root hairs along the stem. Fortunately, there are a number of natural poison ivy remedies you can use for fast relief. Take a look below!
What is Poison Ivy?
Poison ivy is a type of allergic reaction on the skin that’s caused by an oily, poisonous resin called urushiol. Urushiol is found in the leaves, stems and roots of poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. If it gets on your skin, it causes a blistering skin rash that can range from mild to severe, depending on how sensitive you are to it and how much of it gets on your skin. It can transfer from the plant directly to your skin, or it may be transferred by something you touch, such as your pet or someone else’s gardening gloves. If you realize you’ve been in contact with urushiol, take a shower and wash your clothes as soon as possible to reduce the risk of spreading it to other parts of your body and other people!
What Does a Poison Ivy Rash Look Like?
A poison ivy rash is red and itchy and often results in blisters and swelling of the skin. The rash typically forms within 12 to 48 hours, depending on where the plant touched you, and presents itself as patches or streaks of raised, red blisters. The rash won’t spread unless urushiol is still in contact with your skin, so washing yourself off immediately after contact is key!
What Are the Symptoms of Poison Ivy?
There are a number of key symptoms of poison ivy you should look out for. Redness, itching, red bumps, swelling and blisters typically show up 12 to 48 hours after exposure and last from one to three weeks. The location will depend on the area of your body that was exposed to poison ivy, but it’s common on the ankles, face, neck, legs and arms.
When to See a Doctor
A poison ivy rash will typically go away on its own within one to three weeks, drying up and fading after the first week. However, if your symptoms get worse or don’t go away, you should head to the doctor’s office. You should also see a doctor immediately if you notice symptoms such as a fever above 100°F, difficulty breathing or swallowing, blisters oozing puss, a rash that covers a large area of your body, a rash on your face, or a rash on your genital area. Any of these symptoms could indicate a severe allergic reaction or skin infection and it’s important to get it checked out as quickly as possible.
8 Natural Poison Ivy Remedies
Cucumber is one of the most calming and soothing remedies there is for poison ivy. Place slices of cucumber on the affected area or mash one up into a cucumber paste to apply to the rash for relief. Easy peasy!
2. Witch Hazel
Witch hazel has many properties that work wonders for soothing poison ivy. It relieves inflammation, reduces skin irritation, and wards off infection, promoting the skin’s healing process. Pour witch hazel onto a small towel and apply it directly to the affected area for a few minutes. This will reduce itching and swelling and curb infection.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar to the rescue, once again! ACV is a home remedy for a number of ailments, so it’s no surprise it helps with poison ivy too! Create an astringent with 50% apple cider vinegar and 50% water. Soak a cotton ball or small towel and apply it on the rash three to four times a day. Note: if you have blisters, you shouldn’t use ACV as a remedy for poison ivy.
4, Baking Soda
If your poison ivy blisters are open, baking soda is one of the best things you can use. Mix four tablespoons of baking soda into a small glass of water. Once it reaches a thick, gooey consistency, apply it right over the affected area. You can cover the area with a light wrap or gauze to make sure it stays in place. Repeat up to four times per day, especially in the early stages of poison ivy.
5. Oatmeal Bath
Poison ivy is incredibly itchy, and there’s nothing that’s more soothing than an oatmeal bath for your irritated skin. Oatmeal relieves itchiness and irritation due to its starch and beta-glucan, which are both skin-protective compounds. It also contains phenols, which are chock full of antioxidants. Grind oatmeal into a fine powder and pour two to three cups into a half-filled lukewarm bath. Soak in it for 30 minutes for relief.
6. Aloe Vera
The gel from an aloe vera plant works wonders for poison ivy. It has antibacterial power that soothes and heals irritated skin and helps prevent infection. Plus, if an infection has already begun, aloe can help speed up the healing process. Apply the gel directly to the skin from the leaf to soothe itchiness and discomfort caused by poison ivy.
7. Bentonite Clay
Bentonite clay is a natural clay that can provide relief from poison ivy. It can treat the rash and speed up healing following an allergic reaction. Create a paste that contains bentonite clay and water and apply it to the affected area. Cover it with a clean bandage or gauze pad and repeat several times per day.
8. Cool Compress
A wet, cool compress can reduce itching and inflammation from poison ivy. To make a compress, run a clean washcloth under cold water and wring off any excess water. Apply it to the skin for 15 to 30 minutes and repeat several times per day. You can also add an astringent liquid to further reduce the swelling, such as ACV or chilled black tea.
Poison ivy is no walk in the park, but as long as you don’t have a severe case, you can treat it with natural remedies at home!