Poison Ivy rash results from the itching sensation that affects the skin when one comes into contact with the poison ivy plant (medical name: Toxicodendron radicans). This allergic reaction occurs due to the presence of an oily resinous substance known as urushiol oil. One of the reasons why the rash has a rapid onset is that just about every part of the plant has this oil: the roots, the stems and the leaves. Perhaps you were hiking, or gardening or mowing the lone when, after just about an hour, you start to experience an intense itching sensation, not knowing what you touched. This is likely the result of brushing against the plant.
Poison ivy develops as a small shrub that spreads on the ground and attaches itself to trees. The plant’s leaves are usually green, but may acquire orange, yellow or red coloration depending on the seasons. Once you have identified the plant, it is easy to steer clear of it. Note, however, that sometimes the skin irritation results from coming into contact with tools that have touched the plant. The resulting rash features thin reddened lines, and is difficult to ignore. Other symptoms include intense itchiness, blister formation as well as skin sensitivity. For this reason, it helps to know what some of the home remedies you can use for poison ivy rash are.
1. Wash The Affected Skin Immediately:
Time Required: 15 Min
What You Need: Cool water or warm soapy water.
While avoidance is the best way to steer clear of poison ivy rash, this is not always possible. Consequently, it is important that you wash the affected skin immediately you realize your skin has come into contact with the plant. Washing the skin is important as it prevents the resinous oil from reacting with the skin and therefore averts the reaction. This remedy is most effective when used immediately. Note that for this remedy, you are advised to avoid using a washclothe to clean the skin as this allows for quick and easy spread of the oil on different parts of the skin.
- If you are in the outdoors, whether hiking or camping, the first thing to do is to pour cold water on the skin. If possible, immerse the affected skin in a stream or nearby creek. This will help flush urushiol oil and reduce the intensity of the symptoms.
- Alternatively, if you are home, wash the affected skin using warm soapy water.
- Rinse using cool water and allow the skin to dry on its own.
- Do not use a washcloth or towel to dry to prevent further irritation.
2. Baking Soda:
Time Required: 20-30 Min
What You Need: 1/2 A cup of baking soda and warm bath water.
Baking soda is a common kitchen ingredient in many homes, and is one of the most effective choices for the natural treatment of poison ivy rash. This is because it is alkaline in nature, and this helps counter the effects of urushiol resin on the skin. Baking soda also has a soothing effect on the skin. There are two ways in which you can use this remedy depending on the extent of the rash. If a large area has been affected, it helps to soak in warm bath water with baking soda. If the rash is localized, preparing a paste is a simple way to go about it.
Preparing Bath Soak
- Place half a cup of the baking soda in the tub and run the warm water.
- Stir the water to dissolve the baking soda before soaking into it for 20 minutes.
- Allow the skin to dry well. Use this remedy daily until the itching is completely cured.
Preparing the Baking Soda Paste Remedy
- Place 1 tablespoon of baking soda in a shallow bowl and add 1 teaspoon of water. This is done to prepare a paste that will hold on to the skin while neutralizing the effects of the poison.
- Apply the paste on the affected skin using some cotton wool.
- Allow the paste to remain on the skin for about 15 minutes before rinsing using cool water.
- Let the skin air dry and repeat this procedure severally during the day until the itchiness subsides.
3. Cucumber Paste:
Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: Sliced cucumber and ice cubes in a bowl.
Once you have rinsed the skin using cold water, one of the simplest remedies that you can use to reduce the intensity of the symptoms associated with poison ivy rash is fresh cucumber. The use of the simile ‘cool as a cucumber’ is not in vain as this is actually the healing property behind its efficiency. The cooling effects of the cucumber on the skin help soothe the skin while reducing the swelling and blister-formation. The ice cubes are added to this remedy to lower the temperatures even further and improve how efficient the remedy is. You may either use the chilled cucumber slices as they are, or opt for a mashed paste with the same results.
- Place the cucumber slices on the ice cubes for about 5 minutes or so. This chills them so that they are more effective.
- You will then place these slices on the affected skin and let them remain there for half an hour or so.
- Rinse the skin using cold water and allow it to dry.
- Alternatively, place the slices in a bowl and mash using a spoon so that you get a paste.
- Apply the cool paste on the affected skin for its immense healing properties.
- Rinse as described in step 3 above.
- Use this remedy daily until the itching ceases and the accompanying symptoms wear out.
4. Fruity Remedies:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: Fresh banana peels and/or the fresh rind of watermelon.
The next time you are hiking in the woods, you may want to save the banana peels and watermelon rinds as you never know when this could come in handy. This is because after a poison ivy rash,one of the best things you could do for yourself is to rub the fleshy part of a banana peel or watermelon rind on the affected skin. Both options help get rid of the resinous oil while offering much-needed relief from the intense itchiness. Incorporate these simple remedies into your outdoor adventures for effective treatment of the rash should the need arise.
- Harness the goodness of banana peels by using the fleshy inner part to rub on the affected skin. Take care not to spread the resinous oil further to prevent increased skin irritation.
- If you opt to use the rind of a watermelon slice, simply rub it on the affected skin to both soothe the skin and reduce the rate of swelling.
5. Cold Milk:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: Cold milk and cotton wool
Cold milk has long been recommended as a natural remedy thanks to its immense health benefits on the skin. The milk not only soothes and relieves itching on the skin, it is also packed with protein that help in the generation of new skin cells. The fat present in milk also helps keep the skin moisturized. For this remedy, it is best to use cold milk – it is a great substitute for cool water.
- Soak the cotton wool in the cold milk for a few minutes and then proceed to dab it on the affected skin.
- This is important because the cold temperatures help keep any swellings down while soothing the skin.
6. Witch Hazel:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: Witch hazel and cotton ball.
Witch hazel has long been used as a herbal remedy for a number of skin conditions. It therefore comes as no surprise that this is one of the most effective remedies for treating poison ivy rash. The herb has potent soothing properties which help treat the rash as well as prevent blisters from forming. Your best bet is witchhazel that is packaged in alcohol, and that’s because the alcohol creates a cooling effect on application. This goes a long way in reducing the itchiness, and is highly recommended. Get the witchhazel from your local store, and remember to ascertain that it is available in alcohol for best results.
- Soak the cotton ball in the witchhazel solution and gently dab on the affected skin. Take care not to touch the rest of the skin with the used cotton wool.
- Let the remedy dry on its own.
- Use this remedy thrice daily until your skin is completely cured.
7. Apple Cider Vinegar:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: 1 Glass of apple cider vinegar and a brown paper bag/ cotton wool
With its array of medicinal properties, it is hardly surprising that apple cider vinegar has been shown to be a reliable remedy for the natural treatment of poison ivy rash. The remedy works by destroying the resinous substance responsible for causing the rash and itchiness. This in turn reduces the intensity of the symptoms and aids in quick recovery. All you need for this remedy is the vinegar and cotton wool/brown paper for application.
- Soak the cotton wool or brown paper in the apple cider vinegar for a few minutes.
- Transfer the soaked paper/cotton wool to the affected skin and gently press it to draw the toxins out.
- Repeat this severally for quick recovery.
8. Oatmeal Bath Soak:
Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: 1 Cup of oatmeal, grinder, cheesecloth, string and warm bath water.
An oatmeal bath soak is a classic home remedy for the treatment of poison ivy rash. Long used for its soothing properties, oatmeal comes in handy in treating the symptoms associated with this rash. Ground oatmeal is preferred because grinding increases the surface area for the remedy’s healing properties. The bath soak works well in cases where the affected skin is hard to reach, say if you fell on your back. Additionally, you may also use the pouch to gently massage the affected skin for a more localized response as indicated in the directions below.
- Put the oatmeal in the grinder and turn on to get a fine powder.
- Transfer the powder to the cheesecloth. If you do not have a cheesecloth you may use the foot area of an old sock/stocking provided it is clean.
- Tie the cloth/sock so that you have an oatmeal pouch.
- Attach the pouch to the tub’s faucet so that you have it suspended under running water.
- Fill the tub with water and soak in it for half an hour.
- After this soak, gently rub the pouch on the affected skin for added relief.
- Carry out the bath soak once daily, and use the pouch as often as you need to until the skin is completely healed.
9. Aloe Vera:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: Fresh aloe vera leaf/ store bought aloe vera gel and cotton wool.
Aloe vera is a popular remedy for varied skin conditions, and just as it soothes sun-damaged skin, so is it effective for treating poison ivy rash. The freshly cut leaf of an aloe vera plant releases a cool gel which works like magic for the rash. In fact, the gel’s anti-inflammatory properties help reduce the discomfort that comes with intense itching. In the absence of a freshly cut leaf, you may use store-bought aloe vera gel.
- Slice the aloe vera leaf so that you have fresh gel oozing out of the edges.
- Rub this gel directly on the affected skin. You may use cotton wool if you prefer to do so.
- Let the gel dry on its own, and be sure to use this remedy severally during the day.
- Follow the same steps with store-bought aloe vera juice.
- Use this remedy as often as you need to.
10. Rubbing Alcohol:
Time Required: 10 Min
What You Need: Rubbing alcohol and cotton wool.
If you plan to spend time in the outdoors in an area where there’s likely to be poison ivy, it is advisable to carry rubbing alcohol. The alcohol prevents the spread of urushiol, thus restricting its effects on the skin. In addition to its preventive role, rubbing alcohol also creates a buffer layer that prevents the poison from penetrating into the skin. This ensures minimal discomfort and speeds up the process of recovery.
- Soak the cotton wool in the rubbing alcohol and apply on the skin.
Other remedies that you may use to treat poison ivy rash include lemon juice (which is a potent astringent), a cold compress to keep the swelling down as well as used teabags. If the allergic reaction does not seem to subside, see a dermatologist for medical intervention.