Last Modified on Apr 28, 2016
Treatment of poison ivy varies from traditional over the counter options to less conventional natural applications. The Tecnu Extreme Poison Ivy Remedy is one of the most effective treatments available. However, other easier to locate and use options include jewelweed, Fels-Naptha and hot water.
What is Poison Ivy?
Poison ivy rash is a condition caused by an individual’s sensitivity to an oily resin urushiol. This resin is found in the leaves, stems and roots of poison ivy as well as poison oak and sumac.
Common symptoms of the condition include redness, itching, swelling and blistering of the skin. The rash is caused by direct contact with the resin via direct touch, contaminated objects or smoke inhalation from burning plants. The rash itself is not contagious.
Home Remedies for Poison Ivy
Treatments for poison ivy and other skin conditions function as treatments for allergic reactions. Eliminating the allergen and preventing further spread of the rash can be achieved with a variety of cleansing agents. Other treatments offer cooling and soothing of the skin for relief.
Jewelweed is considered the single most effective remedy for exposure to poison ivy. The naturally occurring plant contains specific chemicals that neutralize the irritating effects of poison ivy and other rashes. The compound offers relief from the irritating effects and also prevents spread of the condition.
Fels-Naptha is a chemical-free soap used in a number of home cleaning recipes, but the compound is also effective for treating poison ivy. When used immediately after exposure, the soap removes the residue that causes the poison ivy reaction. Additionally, the soap helps treat itching if lathered, applied to the affected area and allowed to dry.
Hot water is one of the simplest methods for treating poison ivy. This method works to remove any excess oil and to cut the itch of the reaction. Running the hottest water one can stand over the affected area eliminates the sensation of itching and cleanses the skin at the same time.
Poison ivy is an extremely common condition that affects nearly 50 percent of people who come into contact with the plant. These and other home remedies, however, relieve the condition and limit progression of the reaction.
Remedies for Poison Ivy
The Popularity of Poison Ivy Remedies - Full List
I am having Poison Ivy Rush right now and what helps me for itching is the hottest possible shower and Aloe Vera Gel from Walgreens (only for couple bucks). This Gel is also fantastic for moskito bytes, sunburns and just burns. Make sure to keep it in refrigerator. It's great for babies too.
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Posted by David (Grapeland, Texas) on 07/18/2008
After two weeks of using calimine lotion for a severe posion ivy rash and found little to no releif, I used acv on the same rash that I had on my arms. I was reluctant thinking that it would burn but I was so desperate that I tried a topical application and I got almost instant releif from the itching. With continuous applications several times a day the rash dryed and healed. there wasn't any burning and I found it very soothing. I read somewhere that the Isralites practically lived off of vineger and garlic while in Egypt and where very healthy. David , East Texas
P.S. I just remembered that I also used acv for dissolving calcification of kidney stones. Suffering two weeks with birthing pains in my back from kidney stones I finally went to the doctor where after x-rays he determined that I did indeed have several small BB sized kidney stones . Of course he wanted to schedule me for surgery go up in me to retreive these stones in a basket type apporatise and $1500.00 later I would be ok. I told my mother and she said she removed hard water deposits from her coffee pot with vinegar. so I took a couple of table spoons of vinegar and within 30 min. to an hour the stones passed.
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Posted by Kathi (New Brunswick, Nj) on 09/28/2013
I had a case of poison ivy rash appear on two fingers of my right hand one week ago. Treated first by rinsing with lots of water, then washing thoroughly with soap/water, then with drops of Apple Cider Vinegar rubbed in, and finally with drops of 3% hydrogen peroxide rubbed in, similar to Ted's recommendation. The H2O2 treatment was amazing -- it immediately stopped the terrible itch! Every morning following I have treated my fingers with a few more drops of 3% H2O2, and this has kept the itching away all week. Now the rash is finally resolving. I have learned so much from reading Earthclinic posts -- thanks to all who contribute!
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Peterborough, Ontario, Canada
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Mount Airy, Md
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Posted by Christy (Denton, Texas) on 07/12/2013
Since Nov 2012 to today, I have had 3 severe cases of Poison Ivy/Poison Oak. It has been on both my arms, leading me to think I'm getting it from my cat, when she rubs up against me while petting her.
Each time it took 4-6 weeks just to go through the healing process. I used over the counter medicine and some of them only provided temporary relief, and they were rather expensive. Then I tried banana peels. It worked! I rubbed the banana peel over one arm only to conduct an experiement. Instant relief!
Then I got to thinking about other natural products that may provide the same relief... honey.
On the other arm I swabbed it with store brand honey, wrapped arm with a paper towel so I wouldn't leave a sticky mess, and INSTANTLY the itch was gone! I left the honey and paper towel on for 4-6 hours (until bedtime) took my shower and to my amazment the sores dried up.
I also took 1 tablespoon of same honey by mouth and it caused the other places on both arms to stop itching, and only within about 5 minutes! The next day I allowed the spots to dry out, then began applying aloe jel (the type advertised to help with sunburns) and after just a few applications of the gel my arms were beginning to heal!
While battling with current outbreak on both arms, I had a new spot appear closer to my wrist, (again after I spent some time with my cat). Immediately applied the honey, wrapped lightly with paper towel and tape to secure it and got the same results!
Tried it a 3rd time when I noticed the small bumps had appeared on other wrist, before I ever scratched it, applied honey and covered with a bandaid, before bed I showered and removed the bandaid and the poison ivy was gone!
The banana peels, provided relief, but the honey has taken a 6 week process and reduced it to only days, with immediate results.
Thank you ec for a wonderful site.
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Posted by Tim (VA) on 09/27/2006
I have a case of poison ivy from mowing the yard. It is from my knees down to my ankles. I have been using anti itch ointment. I once read that the inside of banana skins is supposed to eliminate itching. I can say that the banana skins work much better than benedryl! Of course, now I'll draw fruit flies. I would be interested how banana skins work on insect bites.
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Posted by A Soaring Hawk on 02/12/2006
Shred the inner bark of an oak tree (handful), bring water to a boil, remove from heat, add the bark, cover & let simmer til cool. Apply as often a possible with a cotton ball. In a couple days it will be gone. Store in the refrigerator. Always ask the tree for permission, thank the tree & cover the tree wood with tar.
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Posted by Soyjim (East Alton, Illinois) on 07/26/2009
At various times in my life I have suffered with severe poison ivy outbreaks. Usually once or twice a year for a number of years then I would have no problems for a few years. in the past I originally almost always had to go to a doctor and beg for prednisone. often the doctors would not give me any until the rash spread extensively. Even with the prescription steroids I would have to shower often with poison ivy washes and use over the counter topical medicines then after about a month I would be ok but sometimes it would return even when I was very careful not to get reexposed. Because the steroid pills were so hard to get I found that I could get rid of the poison ivy if I took an Ibuprofen pill about every 4 hours until the poison ivy was gone. usually I could taper off after about 3 weeks and only take Ibuprofen when itching was severe. without some kind of Anti-inflamatory drug the poison ivy would just spread and itch unbearably. Even with the ibuprofen I would have to use washes and topical treatments to get rid of the rash. The ibuprofen treated rashes seemed not as likely to return in the current year as when I used steroid pills.
About five years ago I read a recommendation that eating honey might keep one from getting poison Ivy. since that time I have started putting a spoon of honey in one of my morning cups of coffee occasionally doing it more often in the likely high out break seasons - spring to mid summer. Although once in the past I did get poison ivy in winter. My own thinking on the subject led me to take some bee pollen pills that I got at thedrug store. These can be over done. When I first stared taking them daily, after a couple of weeks I broke out with a poison ivy type rash all over my body but it went away in a few hours. I encountered a second occurence of this rash when I took the pills daily after a few lay off days. Now I take them occasionally during poison ivy season. Maybe once a week at the start then cut back to one or two more pills over the next few months. This year I only took a couple in the spring and have eaten honey occasionally. I don't know if this has helped me but in the last five years I have not had any severe poison ivy outbreaks. I remember a couple of times having a few itchy bumps on my fingers that went away in a few days. I do not know what they were but when I got them I sure worried that they were poison ivy.
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East Alton, Illinois
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Posted by Bob (USA) on 05/10/2015
I was digging in the yard and got a really bad case of poison ivy. It was all over my arms, legs , hands and chest. I was scratching myself to death-couldn't sleep and absolutely could not get any relief. A friend of mine's dad was in Viet Nam and he said when they would come back from a mission in the jungle the men would have all kinds of rashes and fungus on them from coming into contact with local vegetation. They used ordinary household laundry bleach to cure the rashes.. At that point I would have tried anything to get some relief from the itching. I put some on a paper towel and wiped it on the affected areas.---no burning, no skin reaction to the bleach. It stopped the rash and the itching almost immediately. It was incredible. It really worked. I was amazed. Thanks----------Bob
Posted by Tuli (Redding, Ca) on 07/02/2015
If you are lucky enough to get poison ivy while still breastfeeding like I was, your milk will help the itch! I had an outbreak on my arm and tried many things, then I remembered that breast milk is good for all kinds of things. So when it would itch I would just squirt a little into my hand and rub it on the rash. It took away the itch as soon as it was on my skin. I bet this will work on husbands and children too.
Posted by RJ (Nashua, New England, USA) on 10/19/2007
I was reading about Poison Ivy control for gardens using Clove Oil from:'
Getting Poison Oak and Poison Ivy - no fun for kids of any age. Try an at home treatment of Poison Ivy (or Poison Oak) by:
Making a paste of a food grade clay and saline solution.
Set up your Witch Hazel paper towels and cotton balls with clove oil near you. Open trash can lid and start washing machine on heavy soil cycle.
Put on Kitchen dishwashing gloves that you can dispose of after treatment.
With gloves on, apply paste over the affected area. Let dry.
Wipe off dried paste with a paper towel, moistened with Witch Hazel. Let area dry. (Vinegar stings more.)
Apply Clove Oil. Cover with a gauze bandage and bandage tape to protect area with Clove Oil application.
Soak plant oil affected clothes in sink, with lots of Vinegar and soapy water. Rinse, and launder.
Throw away paper towels and cotton balls.
Throw away disposable Kitchen Dishwashing Gloves.
Sometimes, kids like a big production, so when you want to do that, recycle some plastic shopping bags and use some gauze tape. Tape bags around the area w/Poison Ivy or Poison Oak - so that only the affected area shows. Then do treatment. Doing that also prevents any of the plant oils from transferring to unaffected skin during treatment. After treatment, with gloves on, remove bags. Throw away shopping bags, then remove disposable gloves, and then throw them away, as they have the plant oils on them.
Posted by Elizabeth (Charlotte, Nc) on 06/26/2014
I am a healthy, mid-thirties, female who has tried many different remedies for relief of poison ivy rashes over the years including technu, jewel weed (on the rash, I haven't tried the tea), salt, alcohol, peroxide, bleach, borax, Ivy Dry, and calamine lotion. None of these really made much difference.
Finally, I have found something that works for me: Coconut oil and homeopathics.
The last significant rash I contracted a couple years ago was treated in the following way: A friend suggested that I anoint the rash with oil (she suggested olive oil, but I used coconut) and pray for it. Which I did. The rash stopped being so itchy and began healing. I continued applying coconut oil to it daily. I also noticed that it did not bother me while I was taking my homeopathic treatment for allergies.
What I've learned: the current theory of treatment for poison ivy says, "dry out the rash! " However, this isn't just a rash, its our skin. The skin needs moisture to be healthy, but water seems to irritate the rash.
I've heard that urishol is what causes the allergic reaction and that it acts like a virus in the body. So the immune system is involved.
Coconut oil is a known anti-viral. I have been surprised at how it can help irritations on the skin. I simply apply some oil to the rash in the morning, after showering, before bed or as needed.
The homeopathic medicine I took was for respiratory allergies, but it helped. I have tried homeopathic remedies that are labeled for poison oak/ivy, but they didn't seem to help as much.
Since we can't name products, I'll list the ingredients in the homeopathic remedy I use:
- Echinacea angustifolia 4x, 12x, 20x, 30x
- Ignatia amara 6x
- Lycopodium clavatum 6x
- Sulphur 6x, 12x, 20x, 30x
- Thuja occidentalis 6x
- Ledum palustre 8x
- Phosphorus 8x
- Antimonium Crudum 12x
- Histaminum hydrochloricum 12x
- Selenium 12x.
I use as directed on the label which amounts to taking one tablet every four hours.
Other things that help:
I take the usual precautions of washing my clothes and skin within twenty minutes of exposure to the plant.
When I discover the itchy red spots I wash the area with soap and water before applying the the coconut oil the first time, just to make sure any remaining plant oils are removed.
I've noticed that the itchiness is the worst when I am hungry and/or tired. So I try to take care of myself. Taking vitamin C also seems to help as well as anything that boosts the immune system.
As a teen I contracted the severest case of poison ivy of my life. The rash formed the hard leathery stage from my wrist to my elbow on both arms. (Agony) It only seemed to heal when Mom gave me a combination of Chinese herbs for the immune system. The herbs helped so much that she stopped giving them to me before the rash was fully healed. It resurged, so she had to give them to again til it was gone.
I also avoid sugar and wheat. I really believe these things aggravate so many negative conditions in the body, at least for me anyway.
Since discovering this remedy I have avoided contracting any significant cases of the rash. Instead, I'll find an itchy, red spot or two from time to time. I just use the protocol described above and the spots go away shortly without spreading and without causing suffering.
I really hope this info helps others.
Posted by Kim (Olsburg, Ks, USA) on 11/13/2009
Prevent Poison Ivy
I suffered something awful when they stopped giving the prevention shots for poison ivy at the doctors office. I am so susceptible to it that I'd swear I can get it by looking at it through binoculars! If I broke out in the spring it would stay with me through October. No exaggerating. I finally met a lady whose grandma told her to add a teaspoon of cream of tartar to water and drink it in the early spring (it's awful bitter!). My family has been doing this for years, now, and it really does work! If we're going to be out around poison ivy, or oak in the fall we take another dose just to be safe.
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Posted by Dave(Fountain Inn, Sc) on 09/02/2015
EXPERIMENT WITH POISON IVY
I'm experimenting with what I think is the formula I heard over 50 years ago to make oneself resistant to Poison Ivy.
I heard this from a Cherokee source. I do not know if it is authentic or not as a proven method. I am obviously proceeding with great caution.
First: I have dried PI leaves....about 40 leaves.
Second: I took a pinch of the dried leaf and rubbed in on the inside of my wrist. I washed my hands but left the wrist untouched. If any itching or PI evidence had showed up on my wrist I would have immediately used my anti PI remedies to stop progress. I use Borax to clean the infected area...repeated...then use bentonite clay topically and internally.
If no negative results from the "wrist" sensitivity test emerges...and it did not... I then take a very small amount again...about half the size of my fingernail...and put that in my mouth. I do not swallow. I just let the brief exposure in my mouth stay for less than 10 seconds.
No reaction to that "mouth" test also. So far so good.
Next I will take a whole leaf and put in hot water and steep.
Again, I will first apply the liquid to the wrist.
If no reaction to that will do a "mouth test" using the steeped liquid...about a teaspoon full and spit out after ten seconds. If no reaction to that...
The REAL test begins...and hopefully what will begin the "immunization" test.
WARNING...I AM NOT RECOMMENDING THIS FOR ANYONE. THIS TEST IS ONLY FOR ME. I MAKE NO CLAIM THAT IF IT DOES WORK FOR ME IT MAY NOT WORK FOR SOMEONE ELSE WHO IS MORE SENSITIVE TO POISON IVY THAN ME.
Next: I will drink a teaspoon of the PI tea. This is the beginning of the real test. The idea and theory is that by ingesting a degraded amount of the PI poison the body might build a resistance to the poison.
So....gradually....over the next few months I will drink tiny amounts of the tea to test the theory.
AND THEN...next summer...
You guessed it....I will intentionally expose myself to Poison Ivy.
I fully expect to get the rash....that is, I do not think this experiment will work.
So why am I doing this? Because I am tired of wondering if the old remedy I heard from a Cherokee Indian...55 years ago is a myth.
Thus I am my own test body. Guinea pig.
Stay tuned...I may be reporting back in 9 months just how stupid I am. Note...I will only touch the poison ivy leaf to my hand next summer... and be prepared to immediately act if the rash begins.
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Ten Mile, Tn
Posted by Leticia (Houston, Texas) on 12/25/2012
I love this website and often come here for advice. I had found that diatomaceous earth helps soothe bug bites because it draws out the poison, but I had not found anything for it under curing poison ivy.
My son lives in a woody area and has a severe reaction to poison ivy. I usually have to take him to the doctor for a course of steroids, but since his infection happened right before Christmas, my only option was to go wait in an ER which he did not want to do. While I was in my pantry searching for my ACV, I came across my diatomaceous earth and a light went off inside in my brain.
I had him take a very hot shower and then made up paste of diatomaceous earth and water. I had to put it on him at least 3 times a day. I then gave him an allergy pill. By the 3rd day, it completely dissappeared with no scabbing. I had read many posts that said scrub the heads off, but I did not have to do that. Depending on how severe your infection is- 3 days is what it took for a mild infection.
I hope this remedy will bring you relief. Good luck!