Poison Ivy Remedies

Last Modified on Jul 14, 2014


Jewel Weed

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Jewel Weed Cure for Poison Ivy

Jewel Weed, sometimes known as Touch-Me-Not, is a plant that often grows beside poison ivy. Break the plant's stem and rub the escaping juices onto the poison ivy rash to clear up the blisters and relieve itching. Re-apply more sap if it washes off. Jewelweed tincture is also available at health stores.

[YEA]  07/16/2007: Mildred from Combs, Arkansas: "I had poison ivy from head to toe, and had given up that I would have to go to the doctor for shots, when my cousin picked me some jewel weed and told me to try it. I made a tea from this and drank 1/2 cup, with a half spoon of sugar and it dried it up immediately. I later found an old home remedy book that said to break the stem of jewel weed and rub it on. I had it too severely to do that. I have given jewel weed tea to 3 of my grandchildren with no ill effects."

[YEA]  03/22/2007: Barb from Canada: "At the very first sign of poison ivy, I head for the nearest milk weed plant,{Asclepias speciosa}, (I live in zone 3), and snap off a few stems and apply the milky latex like substance to the poison ivy. I do this twice daily for about 2 days. It does not have to be re-applied unless it is washed off. If caught early enough, this will stop it in its tracks. This is an old Indian remedy."

[YEA]  05/16/2006: Garrett from Tenn: "I read a while back that a plant called jewel weed has a chemical in it that goes to the same site that the oil ( the thing that gives you the outbreak) in poison ivy does and blocks it temporarily. How you apply it is you just rub the juice from the stem on the area that you know you will come in contact with the accursed plant and it will prevent it. The plant tends to get pretty big and has these red/orange flowers the stem is a almost translucent green and is kinda red at the base. wish you luck with it."

Lemon Joy

Approval Ratings
YEA (1)

[YEA]  09/07/2008: Gail Mathena from Winston Salem, North Carolina: "Preventing poison ivy breakouts -- Lemon Joy put on all exposed areas, yes even around the eyes will keep you from breaking out. My husband is very allergic, and I attempt to keep it out of the yard, and off the trees. Every year, no matter how many precautions I took, I would break out, especially on my face. Last year I used Lemon joy to dry it up. This year I applied Lemon Joy like a lotion and went at it. After exposing myself for hours and clearing the nasty vines out, I showered. It usually takes 2 days for the breakouts to occur, but none did. My sister, who is highly allergic, swears by it but usually showers with Lemon joy after exposure. I decided to attempted a preventative alternative, because I couldn't get to the shower quick enough."

Lye Soap

Approval Ratings
YEA (1)

[YEA]  10/19/2008: Sandy from Langley, OK: "Lye Soap

In the early 60's my daughter who was about 7 got poison ivy. I took her to the doctor. Got shot and instructions. It got worse, between her toes, fingers, everywhere!! A little old lady in Nebraska told me to get some P&G Soap. You could buy it then. People used it for washing clothes. Bought some and it cleared up her poison ivy. They no longer market it, so when I find it at a flea market or craft shop I buy lots and give as gifts. Please believe me, this really works. Keep it in the bath or shower and see how it really destroys the oil that comes from the blisters. "


Approval Ratings
YEA (1)

[YEA]  07/05/2012: Lorraine from Indianapolis, Indiana: "I blog and last week I posted something about "Poison Ivy" a reader commented by sharing the following:

One thing I've found that works amazingly well came from the website of a hospital in upstate New York, where it is the only hospital for miles around, and where campers and hikers frequently come into contact with poison ivy. Rather than withholding information in order to get people into the ER, they put this remedy on their website:

Milk. Just soak a cloth with it, and hold it on the area affected. I did this with my 3-year-old, when initially it looked as if someone had slapped her (and I suspected my 8-year-old). There was an area of distinct red with a sharp edge that crossed from her cheek, halfway over her eye, and onto her forehead. But instead of fading, it got worse, to the point when she woke up the next morning that half of her face was swollen and her eye was swollen shut. I knew poison ivy in the eye was dangerous so I was looking for advice online (when to take to the ER, anything we should/shouldn't do in the meantime), and came across the advice to put milk on it.

We had pet milk (milk from a farm, unpasteurized), so that's what I used. I put her in the tub, soaked a washcloth, and held it on her face. When it got warm, I flipped it and added more milk.

Within 15 minutes, I could see a crack of eyeball, and her face was less puffy. Within half an hour, her eye was most of the way open. And within 45 minutes, the redness and swollenness was pretty much gone everywhere on her face, with just one little spot. She was 3 and so done with sitting in the bathtub while I held a washcloth on her face, so I let her out for a bit, and then before bedtime just patted some more milk on the one remaining spot, and after 10 minutes it was no longer red. It took a few days for the blistering to heal, but at that point it wasn't itchy or spreading at all–just damaged skin from her exposure.

My husband, at the same time, started cleaning up the yard (a tornado had deposited shredded poison ivy leaves in our yard) and got a very bad case. He went with over-the-counter remedies for 3 weeks, while it continued to get worse, and then finally caved and tried my "weird" remedy. His was so many places on his body it did take a couple of days to get it all, but it was just a couple of days. Yet the next time he had poison ivy he tried the conventional stuff again and again it was over a week before he'd try milk on it, but now he has learned his lesson and turns to milk right away!

We instantly tried milk on my mom who has a rip-roaring case of PI right now, and it brought almost instant relief. Better than ACV! Hope this helps!!! :)"

12/16/2012: Caroline from Alexandria, Va replies: "1 day into noticing bumbs, our 8 yr. old was in agony over his welts on his wrists and forearm. The doctor couldn't identify it. There were no blisters, some clusters, some welts and all hard raised bumps with redness spread around the bumps in 1/2-3 inch rounds. We thought they may be bites but when the cortisone and prescription steriod didn't work, we suspected poison ivy. It's winter here so not an obvious choice.

Thank you for posting the milk remedy! We tried it since our 8 yr. old will not tolerate stinging remedies. It worked extremely well to get rid of the itching and redness around the bumps--relief was almost immediate, if not w/in a few minutes. The length effectiveness varied quite a bit--from overnight (perhaps he was tired from a basketball game) to only 2 hours. We typically had to reapply with new washcloth every 2-4 hours during the day. The milk was low temp. Pasterized, from grassfed cows, 2%.

We soaked a half of a washcloth then put it on while still dripping, used the other half to wrap around the lower arm and wrist and contain the dripping half. Then gently secured w/ 2 bands of paper tape. He's kept cloths on for the past 36 hours--off for an hour here or there.

Bought some jewelweed in alcohol solution hoping to avoid another night of milk bandage but it didn't work. Perhaps because we didn't have cotton balls? We used bandage gauze and soaked it well. Then dabbed it on as per instruction on the bottle. BTY the solution was made here locally so I'm not sure if you'll find it in your local health food store like we did.

Dear EC--thank you so much!! Have often wondered whether seperating out the remedies suitable for children would help concerned parents finding options quicker as their kid wails in the background."

Multiple Remedies

Approval Ratings

[BETTER BUT NOT CURED]  09/05/2013: Judy from Montgomery, Tx: "Poison Ivy: I tried almost everything everyone listed including soaking in borax/hydrogen peroxide and ACV/baking soda. Fels naphtha helped but I've never had it from head to toe. It started on the tail-end of shingles so this has not been the best season... Acv seems to work best, even better than Tecnu Calagel. A combination of Fels +Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap followed by hydrogen peroxide left on to dry and topped with calamine has lasted up to 5 hours before the itching took off like a bat out of hell... Today I stumbled on a quick fix: Windex. Love the spray... Seems obvious due to Apple Cider Vinegar in it."

09/05/2013: Tom from Fort Worth, Texas replies: "I came down with a bad case of poison ivy that my go to didn't seem to heal. So used Indian Healing Clay. This is a bentonite clay which is from Death Valley. But most any quality clay will do; clay being used for thousands of years.

Here's how to use it: Two tablespoons or more if the infection is widespread. Use purified water to make the clay into a spread. Apply to affected area. Let completely dry. Wash off. Two hours later do it again. The absorbing action of the clay is pulling the "poison" out of the skin. Next day do the same thing.

While the drying is going on, again use two teaspoons in a large glass of purified water and stir vigorosly: drink. The action of the clay will draw the poison from the body internally. Sometimes a bad case of poison ivy will get to the blood steam, so the consumption orally of the liquid clay will absorb internally. Goldenseal is good but I've found the clay is better. Also consider charcoal tablets as an internal cleanser... if you can't bring yourself to drink the clay in a liquified form."

Oak Bark

05/07/2014: Amy from Riverside, California: "Old fashioned Poison Ivy skin cure.

I once read a book about a young man that raised Honey bees. This was back when rural areas had few telephones (can't recall the state but I think it was in the Midwest U.S.A.). Probably in the 1920's or 1930's. This family lived in the woods and the boy would explore the area enjoying the outdoors. The boy said that he once got into some poison ivy and was going through misery all over his body! No one could help him so his mother got on a telephone and called his grandmother in another state.

It took hours to get a hold of his grandmother but when the boy's mother finally got the grandmother on the phone the grandmother told the boy's mother to go out into the woods and take an ax and go to an oak tree and cut down a load of OAK BARK! She then told the mother to place the oak bark in a big tub or sink and fill the tub or sink with water covering the oak bark and to boil the oak bark and water. The oak bark was to be taken out of the tub and the boy was to soak in the oak bark hot water (hot to where the boy could stand it) and soak in this solution until the water became cold. Then the boy was to get into his pajamas and go straight to bed and sleep.

The boy claims that when he woke up the next morning the poison ivy irritation was gone! Just thought I would share this story with others. I have the book in storage but with 6 full storage units I will have a hard time finding it. But I think it is a true story."

Over the Counter

Approval Ratings
YEA (7)
NAY (4)

09/23/2011: Naturalmom from Minnetonka, Mn, Usa: "We finally figured out that my husband has poison ivy. It was difficult to discern because the moment the rash appeared I had him soaking it in a bath mixture of oatmeal, baking soda, lavender and tea tree oil, then covering it with a calendula ointment (by Hylands). It really made the rash look better than it felt because my husband couldn't sleep for several nights due to the severe itch. We finally read about the Tecnu Extreme Poison Ivy Remedy, called Walgreens and they had ONE bottle left ($15... Yikes) but immediately after using it my husband finally stopped itching and slept perfectly last night. The rash appears to look so much better now. We will continue to use it. I should note we put some aloe vera plant on it last night and this morning which is also very soothing."

[NAY]  08/03/2009: Pamela G from Springvale, Me: "I tried using some invisible band-aid from the Dollar Tree and it has made me so much worse. It is causing my rash to weep profusely- so much so that I soak through a facecloth every hour....I cannot get the stuff off without using nail polish remover or the like, and I am not ready for that STING. I would have been better off just letting my body handle this issue with my trying to "help"."

[NAY]  06/25/2009: G from Wooster, Ohio: "From what I have been reading online tonight, you do not develop immunity to poison ivy; rather, you become more sensitive with each exposure. I did watch a youtube video of a man who eats poison ivy and claims to have built up some immunity, but not entirely. No, he wasn't Uhle Gibbons, but an accredited write for a local newspaper.

In my own experiences I feel I am becoming more sensitive to the urushiol (you-ROO-shee-ol). I never broke out in my youth and spent alot of time camping and hiking in the same places I continue to revisit (45yr young now). I contract the rash about 48hr after exposures, and have experienced outbreaks twice this season, spring-summer June 25th 2009.

Technu seems to make it irritated and caldryl seems to help with the itching. Tonight I tried dish soap and rubbing alcohol, this morning zit creams. This is the 5th day after exposure. The zit creams used this morning got mixed reactions somehow. I used two, one clear and one white paste. To my surprise not all zit creams are created equal. 10% benzoil peroxide did very little for me, on the morning of day 5 after exposure. The clear maximum strength 2% salicylic, acid 28% alcohol seemed to make visible decrease in the small area on my arm where I used the treatment. 10% benzoil peroxide product was used on my fingers and did nothing I can detect.

Rubbing alcohol was used to a good sized area on my left leg. It feels good going on, doesn't reduce the itch, and made the rash appear more evident. This was attempted just moments before writing this. After making the rash look worse, I tried the dish soap degreaser (green stuff, tough on grease, soft on hands :) Applied moments after the alcohol treatment, the itch is gone. I applied a minute amount of the soap on the end of my finger and rubbed it in until dry.

If I find a miracle, I will write again :) Until then, you know all I know."

[YEA]  05/22/2010: Sandy from Evans, Co replies: "When I had poison ivy the first time, it was ongoing for at least 2 weeks and I had tried several home remedies and 2 RX before I stumbled into a pharmacy where they recommended technu. It is a product developed to clean your hands in the field if you are using radioactive products, and will remove the oil which causes the rash. It came with a calagel to use to soothe the itch. It helped alot, even after the long time before I found it. The next time I contracted poison ivy, I was able to get the technu on is probably 30 minutes or so (as soon as I became aware a rash was appearing), and generously applied the calagel as soon as the technu dried. The rash lasted just a day or less. I had 2 more rounds before we moved to another state and had equal success each time. I had nearly 100 different poison ivy and possibly poison oak plants on our half acre, so was so glad to find something that worked for me."
06/27/2011: Leslie from St Louis, Mo replies: "Zanfel is an expensive, but highly effective, over the counter remedy for poison ivy! It's available at Walgreens, but here in St. Louis, it's cheaper at the Dierberg's Pharmacy. This product helped me get over my fear of going into the woods because of my severe allergies. Try it, you won't be sorry!!"

[YEA]  11/20/2008: Leslie from bowling green, ky: "NewSkin, brand name of liquid band-aid, when applied to patches of poison ivy, takes the incredible itch away and seems to dry up the rash. I use just a couple of brush strokes on the rash every time I get PI. I've never used any other brand of liquid band-aid b/c I don't want to take a chance that it doesn't work."

[YEA]  06/03/2008: Linda from Erlanger, Ky: "I recently came into contact with some poison ivy in our flower bed at home. About a week later, here came the rash. I was using the Tecnu which is a good product but was taking forever to see any results. A co worker suggested a product called Ivy Dry so I found it in spray form at Walgreens and it is awesome! It dries up the red patches very quickly and takes care of the itch also. I highly recomend this stuff!"

EC: Yes, we've tried the product and agree. It takes the itch away fast, that's for sure.

09/12/2013: Gina from Lewisberry, Pa replies: "I have also tried Ivy Dry and our pharmacy did not have but found on Amazon. Very helpful. Just ordered today for another bout with poison ivy.... I hate it!"
[SIDE EFFECTS]  06/26/2014: Elizabeth from Charlotte, NC replies: "I have used Ivy Dry on myself and my son. It did help stop the itching temporarily. However, after repeated use on one rash (mine on the shin and his on his forearm where the skin is closest to the bone) I noticed a problem. The poison ivy rash eventually went away, but another scab was always there that itched--even several months afterwards. In fact, for my son, he had itchy scabs in that area for over a year.

One of the active ingredients in Ivy Dry is benzyl alcohol, which is made from benzene. Benzene is known to cause cancer, including leukemia. The CDC says this (among other things) about benzene, "Direct exposure of the eyes, skin, or lungs to benzene can cause tissue injury and irritation."

So I refused to use the product and properly disposed of it. (I am a healthy, mid thirties, female.)"

[YEA]  05/20/2008: Joyce from Joelton, Tn.: "Maybe now would be a good time to suggest that readers who have a local Dollar Tree Store go and see if they can find a product put out by "Fruit of the Earth" - I have had my share of poison ivy/oak as far back as I can remember - have used a little bit of everything on it including bleach, alcohol, steroid cream, steroid shots - you name it & I've probably tried it to find it didn't work very well to hasten healing or allay the itching. They will find it in the hand lotion - shampoos area - the one I am praising is Vitamin E with Naturals gel (yellow gel) - it also comes in Aloe Vera with Naturals gel, which is green and probably will work the same. It can probably be found in places like Wild Oats or health food stores but it will probably be closer to $4 or $5 else where. If you dig herbals you'll recognize the naturals of burcock root & calendulas in them. I find it also helps itching from other problems also. I have about 10 bottles stashed and check for more every time I pass a Dollar Tree.

Of course that the alkaline oils from the plant can also be neutralized with vinegar to prevent the rash if you know you have been exposed to it. The thing I have used to use to hasten poison ivy's drying & healing was ACV and epsom salts - but if you have the problem get a bottle of this stuff and try it. It not only stops the itching, but starts drying it up after the rash is started."

[YEA]  04/15/2008: Mylu from California, Missouri: "re: poison ivy,oak or sumac. I broke out a week ago. I tried all the remedys ,they helped some. Went to my phamas. yesterday and he told me about a new wash. It's called ZANFEL ,it really works. The ingre. bind with the oil and washs it away.You can use this on the actual rash-bisters. I could tell a difference in 30-45 minuets. Good luck and GOD BLESS"

[NAY]  05/23/2008: Kathy from St. Louis, Missouri replies: "I've been using Zanfel for 3 days. Temporary relief, but the poison oak rash is spreading... back to the ACV!"
[NAY]  06/01/2010: Juju from Frankfort, Il, Usa replies: "I just got my first PI rash....did not know a thing about pi. While I am learning since I have a terrible rash on hands, arms, face and neck, I tried most of the things listed except thoses that looked dangerous. I also tried Zanfel, using it as directed but it not only didnt work, but it seems it has damaged my skin. Just because it is sold in a drugstore does not make it safe. I would advise anyone not to try it especially since there are others things that seem to actually do a much better job."
[YEA]  07/08/2010: Shannon from Conway, Arkansas replies: "I got a poison ivy rash all over my arms about 2 years ago when pulling weeds out of my backyard. It was horrible. It took almost a month to get rid of it. I had huge blisters all over my forearms and even strangers would ask me what kind of "accident" I had been in. I went to the doctor 3 days in a row to get steroid shots and he prescribed loratidine (allergy med) and some kind of ointment that didn't help with the itching, an antibiotic to prevent a staph infection, and prednisone (steroid). I had already gone through a bottle of calamine but it never really helped. The only thing that brought me any relief was scalding hot water and zanfel. I would put it on in the shower and afterwards my blisters/rash would look worse because the blisters would swell and drain but the relief from the itching would last about 8 hours which was awesome.

For the person that said that their rash seemed to be spreading after using it, mine did too. But it wasn't from using zanfel. My doctor told me that as bad as I had it, it's in my bloodstream now and could pop up anywhere. I had a small rash show up on my shoulder, thigh, and midsection a week after seeing him.

I'm sorry for those of you that have it as bad as I did. I don't wish that misery on anybody. I highly recommend the zanfel for itch relief. Good luck=)"

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