The rash from contact with poison ivy is absolutely miserable. Fortunately, natural remedies for poison ivy can be very effective to relieve the itching and help your body to heal. Home remedies include apple cider vinegar, baking soda, herbs, soap, and vitamin C.
Ideally, you will learn to identify poison ivy in all of its forms and avoid contact with it all together. While some people will only get a small rash that is mildly irritating, others will have a severe reaction. Left untreated or under-treated, prescription steroids can become the only option.
Home Remedies for Poison Ivy
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar can be applied to the skin to relieve itching as needed. If your skin is broken from scratching, the apple cider vinegar will burn. Dilute apple cider vinegar with water using ½ apple cider vinegar and ½ water. If you have extensive outbreaks, add 1 cup of apple cider vinegar to your bath and soak for 20 minutes.
A simple paste made with baking soda and water can be applied to the rash to relieve itching. Again, like the apple cider vinegar, a baking soda bath can bring hours of itch relief. Add 1 cup of baking soda to a warm bath.
DMSO is a solvent and helps to break down the urushiol even after it binds to your skin. Do not use more than 70% DMSO on your skin.
Bromelain is a substance in pineapple that has anti-inflammatory properties. For poison ivy, take it on an empty stomach. (Taken with food the bromelain is busy helping your digestion.)
Nettle leaf purifies the blood and reduces allergy symptoms. It works best for poison ivy by taking it internally as a tea, in a tincture or in capsules.
Turmeric root, like nettle leaf, purifies the blood. It is also an anti-inflammatory. Turmeric can be taken internally in capsules or as Golden Milk. It can be made into a paste and applied directly to the poison ivy, though this will stain the skin temporarily.
Jewelweed is a first choice herb for poison ivy. Unfortunately, it must be prepared from the fresh leaf and flower, and most people do not have access to it. You can find jewelweed soaps and tinctures on the market to treat poison ivy.
Comfrey is a skin healing nutritive herb. A salve or tea made with comfrey leaf can bring relief to poison ivy.
As a tincture, Goldenseal can be applied to the skin to treat poison ivy.
Support the Immune System
In addition to treating the symptoms of poison ivy, support your immune system.
Vitamin C not only helps your immune system it helps your skin to regenerate, reduces allergic responses and helps with inflammation.
Give your body lots of nutrients to fight the allergy and repair the damage. Avoid sugar, milk and processed foods. These can each make inflammation and itching worse.
Alkalize the Body
Your body will not heal well if it is in an acidic state. Taking 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar, fresh lemon juice or fresh lime juice in a glass of water once or twice a day will help to alkalize your body.
Poison Ivy Remedies to Avoid
Scratching and Bleaching
Some will suggest scratching your poison ivy and then bleaching it. This treatment is no treat at all. If you have poison ivy your skin is already damaged and needs healing, not further damage and harsh chemicals. Opening the skin makes it take longer to heal and increases your risk of infection.
Eating Poison Ivy
You will find reports of people that eat small amounts of poison ivy leaves to increase poison ivy immunity, as one would use a vaccine. While there are reports of this working, there are also reports of serious side effects and even hospitalization because of this practice. You are much better off strengthening your immune system and treating symptoms promptly.
What Does Poison Ivy Look Like?
Remember, “Leaves of three, let it be!”
Baby poison ivy has small shiny leaves. They may be on trees or on the ground. They pop up in the spring before you notice!
Poison ivy leaves in the summer are green. Some are dark and shiny while others will be lighter and less shiny. The three leaves each have a notch in them, making each leaf resemble a mitten.
In the fall poison ivy leaves turn red again, but they are larger and less shiny.
“Grandfather poison ivy” is a vine-like root of an old poison ivy plant that is found growing up trees. It has multiple hair-like roots that cling to the trees.
The oil from the poison ivy plant is called urushiol. It is in the leaves, roots, stems, and vines. Even in old and dead poison ivy the oil can remain for years and give you a rash.
Reduce Your Risk of Poison Ivy Rash
Learn to recognize the poison ivy plant in all of its stages!
If you come in contact with poison ivy or think you may have come in contact with poison ivy change clothes (and wash them in hot water with plenty of soap) and wash your skin thoroughly with soap. Keep Fels Naptha soap on hand to wash with, but any grease cutting soap will do at the moment. The earlier you get the oil off of your skin, the better.
Keep your pets out of poison ivy. Pets do not get poison ivy rashes but can carry the oil on their fur. You can get the oil onto your skin by touching their fur or any place that their fur has touched and transferred the oil to, including your car seat, couch and bed!
Beware of smoke from fires. If your neighbor is burning brush and unwittingly has poison ivy in the mix, you could get the urushiol into your lungs. This can cause a serious reaction in sensitive people. It is a good practice to avoid smoke vapors of any source for a multitude of reasons anyway.
If you develop a severe rash, difficulty breathing, fever, or other severe symptoms, seek medical attention for your poison ivy.
Have you used a natural remedy to treat poison ivy? Please send us some feedback!
Continue reading below for tips from Earth Clinic readers who have been reporting their poison ivy cures for 20 years!