10 Natural Remedies for Poison Ivy

itchy skin

Well summer’s finally here and you know what that means. That’s right, more outdoor fun and, unfortunately, probably a few cases of poison ivy to go along with it.

If you’ve never experienced a case of poison ivy consider yourself incredibly lucky. Poison ivy causes a rash when the plant toxin, urushiol (one of the deadliest natural poisons on the planet) comes into contact with human skin. Along with the rash comes swelling, blisters, pain and an amazing amount of itching.

Besides intense itching and pain, accidentally rubbing up against this poisonous plant can cause red bumps, intense burning, inflammation, and even a fever. If you don’t treat the rash properly it can easily spread to other areas of the body, especially when you scratch the infected area.

The appearance of the symptoms can be between anywhere from a few hours to…shockingly…seven to ten days after the original contact with the plant.

Luckily, just as nature has cursed us with this naughty leaf, nature has also provided a number of natural remedies for combating the ivy’s worst symptoms.

Following are 10 of my favorite natural remedies for calming the itch, pain, and inflammation of a poison ivy rash. Prepare now and you’ll be ready for some on the spot soothing relief.

1. Baking Soda Baths & Pastes

Found in most kitchens, common baking soda is a great natural remedy for the itchiness associated with a poison ivy rash. To help relieve itching, place 1/2 a cup of baking soda in a bath tub filled with warm water. You can also mix 3 teaspoons of baking soda with one teaspoon of water and mix until it forms a paste. Apply this paste to the infected area to relieve itching and irritation that’s associated with a poison ivy rash.

2. Oatmeal Paste

Cook a small amount of oatmeal and apply it directly to the skin as a paste. Make sure to cook it very thick so that the paste will stick to the skin. Some sources recommend putting the oatmeal on the skin while it is very warm, as the heat from the oatmeal will eventually cool, leaving the skin dry and relieved. Make sure not to apply the oatmeal when it is too hot, as this can easily burn the skin. You may also try mixing in a teaspoon of baking soda, for an extra itch-relieving effect.

3. Banana Peel

It may sound strange, but many old-wives tales swear by the power of a banana peal for poison ivy. Simply rub the inside of a banana peel on the affected area. This is possibly related to the cooling effect the banana peel has on the rash.

4. Aloe Vera Gel

An ancient curative remedy for the skin, aloe vera can be used directly on the infected area. You can buy a high-quality organic version at most health-food stores, or even better, buy a plant and use the gel from inner flesh of the leaves. External use of organic aloe vera juice may also help, but is not as effective as the gel.

5. Organic Goldenseal

Mix a small amount of powdered goldenseal root with a small amount of hot water. Rub this paste on the affected skin to help reduce the chances of infection. For quickest results, try drinking goldenseal tea or taking a goldenseal supplement. This remedy can also help with poison oak.

6. Himalayan Crystal Salt

Remember, poison ivy is a condition that causes the skin to become wet and inflamed. Salt is an excellent natural remedy, as it is drying for the skin, and will pull both the excess water and the poison from the body. Make a paste using purified water and Himalayan Salt. You can also take a warm salt bath. I’d recommend putting a cup of Himalayan Crystal Salt into the bathtub and soak in it for at least 20 minutes.

7. Organic Witch Hazel

Dabbing a small amount of witch hazel tonic on the infected area offers both cleansing and itch-relief. Witch hazel can be found at most drugstores.

8. Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

Apply a teaspoon of organic apple cider vinegar directly to the infected skin. Apple Cider Vinegar has a toxin-pulling action that helps suck the poison out of the pores. You can also create a warm vinegar compress using a thin cotton towel. Reapply to the skin as needed.

9. Organic Cucumber

This green veggie is very cooling. Making a cucumber paste and applying it to the skin helps bring soothing relief to heated itching. For easy itch relief, slice a piece of a cucumber off and let it dry on the affected area.

10. Watermelon Rind

Similar to the cooling cucumber, watermelon is also cold on the skin and can help provide itch relief for the poison ivy rash.

Have I missed your favorite natural remedy to combating poison ivy? Share it with us in the comments below.



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Dr. Edward Group

Dr. Edward F. Group III has his Naturopathic Doctorate, Clinical Herbalist, Holistic Health Practitioner, Clinical Nutritionist certifications, and is a Diplomate of the American Clinical Board of Nutrition and the American Board of Functional Medicine. He founded Global Healing Center Inc. in 1998 which has earned recognition as one of the largest alternative, natural and organic health resources on the Internet.

A dynamic author and speaker, Dr. Group focuses solely on spreading the message of health and wellness to the global community with the philosophy of full body cleansing, most importantly colon cleansing, consuming pure clean organic food, water, air, exercise and nutritional supplementation. Visit GlobalHealingCenter.com to learn more about living green and healthy!

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  1. Gale Holloway says

    Having suffered greatly with poison ivy as a kid, I was very happy to find a fast, easy, inexpensive way to cure it – which is not mentioned above. Simply showering twice a day with a washcloth and liquid dish detergent, scrubbing every square inch of skin each time, will eliminate it in a day or two. Remember to put on clean clothing after each shower – although clean bedding doesn’t seem to matter as much. However, do change bedding when this treatment is over. Don’t go longer than a few days with this treatment, as the skin may dry out and could make it more sensitive to re-infection.
    For the itching (and this works on mosquito bites, too) apply hot water. This isn’t very convenient on some body parts, but for hands and arms it is. Hold the itching part under the kitchen tap and gradually increase the temperature until it becomes unbearable. That’s it. Itching stops immediately. Not recommended for kids too young to control the temperature themselves, as they could accidentally get slightly scalded.

  2. Wondering Woman says

    Fortunately my chemistry class was titrating acids and alkali
    when I happened to read that the troublesome chemical on poison ivy was alkaline which gave me the information that it could be titrated with an acid which should neutralize it. So the next time I met up with my lifelong enemy poison ivy, going into the house and getting that common acid found in most households (apple cider vinegar), I wet a wash cloth and wiped over all areas of skin that were likely to have been exposed to the poison ivy. Lo and behold, the first time I escaped the intense itching & rash that always lasted for 1-3 weeks after getting anywhere close to poison ivy. Unfortunately the apple cider vinegar doesn’t help at all after the rash appears – it has to be titrated with the acid before the rash appears.

    Once it breaks out, there is only one thing that stops the itching and even dries it up, and that is a lotion put out by a company called “Fruit of the Earth” and the name of the one
    that works best for the poison ivy problem is Vitamin E with Naturals gel. It can probably be found in health food places
    in the cosmetics section. What a pleasant surprise when applying the lotion to the areas of intense itchy rash, to find that it completely stopped the itching. When the itching returned about 3-4 hours later a second application worked the same magic of stopping the itching. When itching returned
    a few hours later, this wonderful lotion worked the same magic
    again. Even more amazing, when I was applying the lotion to the rash the next time it started itching, the rash was drying up. The naturals they list in the ingredients include golden seal, comfrey, linden, calendula and chamomile. All are well
    known by herbalists. The bottle does not mention the wonder
    of this gel (lotion).

    A roofer once told me that he and another fellow had gotten into poNftrison ivy and were itching miserably, but had to get up on the roof to lay new shingles in the hot summer time. Of course they were sweating profusely while working. He stated
    that by the end of the day their itching had stopped and their
    rash was gone. Common sense says that it probably worked by sweating out all the alkaline substance that caused the rash to begin with.

  3. lon says

    The best remedy for poison ivy is jewelweed. Ironically jewelweed grows in the same areas as does poison ivy. Just break the stem of jewelweed and put the juice on the poison ivy affected areas

  4. Terry B says

    Several years ago I read a book about a vet that treated animals with homeopathic remedies. He used rhus toxidodendron (scientific name for poison ivy) for skin rashes on dogs and cats with much success, and decided to try on himself with great success. My husband is highly allergic, we live in the country and have inside/outside dogs and cats and he will break out from petting the animals. He has found that at the first sign of itching he starts the little pills under his tongue, repeating every few hours or when he feels the itch again, and any rash that does appear is healed up in 3-5 days and the breakout stays insignificant. Secret is to keep them around so you can start immediately.

  5. Elizabeth Butler says

    I am 70 years old and have been tormented every summer of my life by this diabolical plant. I endorse the very hot water as itch control–discovered by accident when I had to wash dishes even with the rash on my hands. I have been able to get good relief with Tecnu cleansing cream–it efficiently takes the plant toxin, urushiol off of the skin, which scrubbing with soap does not do well as the urushiol binds with the skin proteins. The homeopathic remedy Rhus Tox also works well (it is acutally made from the poison ivy plant itself) and is available in a gel for arthritis relief as well as in the usual tablets. I was glad to learn that the stuff is actually good for SOMETHING. We used it for sore muscles for several years and I was surprised to find my sensitivity to getting poison ivy rash was much reduced.

  6. Seasalt says

    Echinecea capsules for 10 days works for our family. We had one really bad case and honey applied topically was the only thing to work. It was a honey boy head to toe but no scarring just a miserable couple of days and a load of washing.

  7. Steve S. says

    I can personally recommend your first remedy of using a “baking soda paste” on the affected area. The baking soda treatment would at least allow me a nights rest, as it temporarily removes the itch for most the night.

    I have heard that American Indians used, for external use, the Manzanita bushes leaves and twigs for a Poison Oak remedy. It is to be boiled to a rich tea mixture as much as possible. Manzanita can be found found quite commonly in the 100ft. to 7,000 ft range elevations from British Columbia down into New Mexico.

    Incidently, I have never had poison Ivy, but here on the West coast and somewhat inland, there is lots of Poison Oak (sumac). It’s essentially the same allergic reaction that comes from Poison Ivy.

  8. Joe in NC says

    Definitely jewel weed, bought and used jewel weed “soap” from a local store who makes theirs, a couple drops of water to make a paste, dab it on, works great.

  9. Roger says

    If you can attend to the area(s) effected right away (within one hour of exposure) carefully wash off and rinse with VERY COLD WATER. In most cases, this will prevent the annoying rash and itching from poison ivy from ever appearing!

  10. Patti says

    I am terribly allergic to poison ivy. My favorite natural remedy is sea salt mixed with coconut oil. If I’m out of sea salt I will use epsom salts. I scrub the affected areas with this mixture in the shower morning and night and the rash is usually gone within three days.

  11. Anonymous says

    Tea Tree oil is a wonder that the Lord gave for so many things and poison ivy (meanig all three ivy, oak, sumac) is just another thing it helps with. Rub it on as much as needed and there is relief. It is used in our home for so much, keep it around at all times.

  12. Amanda Lee says

    I recently got poison oak, this is my first time ever getting anything like this, the reason, cause I went into a field with a friend to shoot a movie, and got poison oak all over my legs, thighs and gential area. I’m on my sixth day, already and just now is it barely feeling a bit better. Day 1, started with a small itch, behind my knees, day 2 was scary itchy, I couldn’t stop, that’s all i thought about over and over,like an obsession, it attacked, i didn’t want to eat,sleep, watch tv,, talk to anyne,i’d itch till i was raw and tore my skin, I tried everything from the drugstore, “Benadryl cream””Itch X””Cortison cream””Zanfel”, none of these worked! (for me)cause i was sooo desperate,anxious and wanted this off of me, I did home rememdies, the rubbing down with prepared oatmeal with lots of salt, put it on your poison oak blisters/ rash, while it’s still warm, let it dry, then wash off. But I finally found something that worked for me. I do the prepared oatmeal with extra salt, just follow the directions on your oatmeal package, get in tub, rub the warm almost hot oatmeal all over for poison oak rash, let it dry-about 15-30 minutes(this will be messy so have a towel ready to clean up the oatmeal that falls off) wash oatmeal off with hot water(the hottest you can stand) this opens up the pores and lets anything you put on it in, (the oatmeal), then, wash with Dial antibacterial soap, next,wash with the Zanfel (following insturctions), then, you wash that off with COLD WATER, this closes the pores, leaving all medicines in to kill the poison under your skin,NOW, (my favorite part) ahhhh, get ICE as much as you can, go back to the tub and rub, all of your poison oak down with ice, this will numb all the pain and itch. Let yourself dry, i rubbed down with ice for about 5 minutes. But numb as muchas possible.This seems to work the best for me, then I sit back and open up a beer to help me forgetit all. Hope this helps anyone out there. Poison oak, is seriously the most damaging uncomfortability mother nature can give you, No one can understand this, I ‘d tell my boyfriend and he’d touch mylegs, when I’d stricty tell him not too,and thus the itching would start back up. Wrap your most damaging blisters with guaze bandages and medical tape, don’t wear jeans, but pjs, silk if you have them. or Stretchy pants, the workout kind. And most of all Don’t itch, I know it’s hard NOT TOO, BUT, youll prevent infection and prevent popping your blisters with your fingernails. Just try your bestest not to friend. Poison Oak is a powerful plant and part of the cashew family (so intersting) try to find out information about poisonoak/sumac/ivy, youll find out how beautiful nature is, and how deadly it can be. This is just a brush of it, somepeople have ingested it or gotten it in thier eyes so be grateful. Gonna have another beer, now. Good Luck, The longest poison oak will last should be about 2 weeks, theres nothing you can really do about poison oak,but, wait for your blisters to heal, (depending on the severeity), another thing, you will be sleep deprived, the itch will be waking you up about 3-4-8 times throughout the night. Just please, don’t itch, Oh, and take Benadryl allergy pills to kill off the infection. Hope this helps in any way. Take Care xoxoxox-Amanda

  13. Sean says

    Poison oak has been my bane for many years. I use lots of calamine lotion and hot water. The mechanism that creates the itch is fluid in microscopic quantities moving through the skin and tickling the highly sensitive nerves as it moves. Hot water works by pushing this fluid through while the very hot water is applied so after the fluid exits you have some relief until your body produces more fluid (2-4 hrs). Also many of the remedies help dry the skin and help control the fluid movement. No real silver bullet but using what works for you especially at bedtime will help. Keeping your mind occupied during the day and avoid scratching as long as you can cause once you start it’s bad news. I layer on calamine lotion day or night and take a really hot shower at bedtime and that helps to sleep. The calamine lotion helps to keep breakouts from weeping, just slather it on. Good luck.

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