OUTDOOR BASICS

How to Get Rid of Poison Ivy: Ease the Itch Effortlessly

Jerry Mueller
Written by Jerry Mueller

Journeying into rocky terrain, or through mountainous outcrops or along tree lines requires the adventurer to remain a little extra vigilant, not only for wild animals but also for unfriendly flora, such as poison ivy. For the most part, poison ivy rashes and burns can be extremely irritating, but should not pose any real danger to the victim (except for some rare cases).

However, if you know how to treat the symptoms with poison ivy home remedies, it will help a lot in ensuring that recovery is successful and easy. In this article, we will look at some of the known tips on how to get rid of poison ivy.

Why Poison Ivy is a Problem

Stinging, burning, itching and rash-like symptoms can be an awful burden to try to grin and bear while the beauty of nature in all its visual and auditory wonder. Poison ivy can ruin a day out, as the simple touch of skin against a poison ivy plant will cause the toxin to bind to the skin.

Trying to grab poison ivy

Shortly after this simple contact, the affected areas of skin will break out into torturous itching, and develop into an inflammatory reaction on the skin with burning and redness following. In some cases, blisters may form, and those that are scratched or damaged may begin to leak fluid, which can be rather distressing and alarming to the victim.

Many people fear that the rash will spread to any areas that this fluid touches. Fortunately, this is not the case, as this fluid is a bodily secretion. If the rash does continue to spread, it is important to pay attention to anything that may have been touched after coming into contact with the poison ivy, as the toxin from the plants may adhere to other items and continue to cause irritation when those objects are touched again.

However, knowing how to treat poison ivy will go a long way in helping the body fight the inflammation. Fortunately, there are some effective home remedies and tips for recovering faster. Some of these tips may be more effective than others, but they are all very safe, so a multitude of home remedies can be tried at one time.

aloe vera leaves and gel

Different people have found different tips and tricks to be effective to their own rashes. It is definitely encouraged to be experimental until one remedy comes along that really manages to take the edge off of the pain more effectively than any of the others. Let’s examine some of the recommended home remedies to treat the symptoms of poison ivy.

Home Remedies

Before attempting any remedies to treat the rash, it is best to try to wash the toxin off of the skin with cool, soapy water to prevent the pores of the skin from opening up and absorbing more of the oily toxin. If the affected area has been rinsed thoroughly and the rash continues to develop, proceed to try a few home remedies to combat the severity of the symptoms.

Astringent-based Products to Dry out your Skin

Astringent products like Burrows Solution, or anything containing aluminium acetate will draw moisture out of the skin, as well as some of the oils from the poison ivy. Removing oils can help the skin to heal faster and minimize the symptoms, as the cause has been removed.

box of astringent solution domeboro

The way in which an astringent is best used is to soak the blisters in a bath containing the astringent for 20 minutes. You can repeat this treatment numerous times, and if the blisters are local to only one area of the hands or feet, they can be soaked in hot water containing the astringent without the full bath being necessary.

An astringent can also be applied directly to the skin by using cooled black tea as a cold compress. As mentioned before, the warmer skin may be more susceptible to poison, and warmer temperatures may also cause the itch to feel more irritable on the skin.

To make a cold tea compress:

  1. Simply boil some water.
  2. Add tea bags and allow it to steep until the water is cooled down.
  3. Refrigerating this tea and then dipping a cold cloth into it to apply to the skin should provide some relief.

This can be repeated numerous times as needed.

box of black tea and tea bags

An astringent is great for:

  • Drying out the blisters
  • Drawing out the poison
  • Allowing the blisters to heal without being opened or punctured.

Apply Anti-inflammatory Agents

Coffee is a natural anti-inflammatory agent because it contains a compound called chlorogenic acid. Coffee that was brewed and then left to cool can be applied directly to the skin where the rash is. Once again, it is important only to apply substances that are either room temperature, or below room temperature in order to keep the pores of the skin closed, and blood vessels constricted.

The chlorogenic acid is contained in coffee beans, so instant coffee, which often contains chicory, is not going to be very effective. It is recommended to use 100% coffee bean extract, or even better, brew a pot of filter coffee and use some of that!

coffee beans in a bag

Other natural compounds that contain chlorogenic acid and can be applied to the skin that is affected by poison ivy include:

  • Potatoes
  • Pears
  • Apples
  • Purple Sweet Potato Stem
  • Honeysuckle Flower

Any of the above can be crushed, peeled or sliced and applied to the skin, although for the sake of practicality and also for the sake of net getting sticky, coffee is still probably the easiest to apply to the skin.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a good way to bring relief from poison ivy as it helps to draw out impurities from the skin. Baking soda is very alkaline, which can also balance the acidity which causes burning on the skin, when poison ivy deposits toxins onto the skin.

baking soda and spoon

Baking soda can be used for different symptoms caused by poison ivy. This method is most effective for the blisters left behind:

  1. Baking soda needs to applied to the skin in a paste form. Combine baking soda with water at a 3:1 ration
  2. Apply it directly to the skin, at least two or three times per day.
  3. Once the paste dries, it will begin to flake off; this is natural.

It can be reapplied multiple times in order to provide more relief.

Oozing blisters are better treated with a baking soda compress which can be made using the following method:

  1. Dissolve 2 teaspoons of baking soda in a liter of cool water.
  2. Dip a sterile, clean rag or gauze into the dissolved baking soda solution.
  3. Apply the compress to the skin and keep it there for up to 10 minutes.
  4. Repeat this 4 times per day.

½ cup of baking soda can also be added to a bath to help bring relief to inflamed areas affected by poison ivy.

baking soda and water solution

To speed up the healing process, baking soda can also be paired with distilled white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar.  A burning sensation may occur initially, which is normal and to be expected. This should subside fairly quickly. You may also smell vinegarish, so it is recommended to keep this one for bedtime. The instructions are as follows:

  1. Use just enough vinegar to wet 3 tablespoons of baking powder in order to create a paste.
  2. Apply the mixture to the affected areas and scrub carefully. Take care not to break the skin.
  3. After a few minutes, rinse the paste off with cool water.
  4. Dry the skin gently, and then pat the affected areas with a little more vinegar.
  5. Allow the vinegar to dry on the skin.

tube of vinegar and bag of baking soda

This can be repeated daily until the symptoms disappear.

Lemon Juice and Honey

Lemon juice and honey may sound like an odd remedy, but due to the hygroscopic nature of honey, this remedy will draw out the poison as well as the fluid from inside the blisters, while lemon juice has an astringent quality. Together, they can speed up healing, while toughening the skin and preventing blisters bursting which may lead to infections and a longer and more painful recovery.

  1. Juice one lemon
  2. Combine the lemon juice with 2 teaspoons of honey. The honey can be warmed to get it to mix with the lemon juice better.
  3. Apply this directly onto blisters and inflamed areas.

lemons and honey

It is advised to store some of this premixed in a container so that it can be applied quickly and without a hassle at numerous points throughout the day for the duration of the recovery period.

Oatmeal

A well-known home remedy for all types of rashes and inflamed skin conditions is the use of oatmeal. It is simple, effective and inexpensive. You can use any oatmeal, even the cooking type that would be stored in the pantry. The starch molecules will draw out the toxins and impurities in the skin once it is allowed to dry on the skin.

Therefore it is very important not to wipe or brush off the powdery layer that will appear on the skin. The recipe goes as follows:

  1. Tie one cupful of oatmeal into a muslin cloth. A sieve will also do, provided it does not allow the oats to pass through.
  2. Soak the oats in a bowl of water. The oats will swell as it absorbs the water and will release a white milky substance into the water.
  3. Squeeze the oats to release  the milky substance into the water.
  4. Apply the milky liquid to the skin that requires the treatment. This white milky substance is the starch which will dry on the skin and draw out the poison. This method is most effective if the skin is allowed to air dry.

oats in a bowl and a spoon

Oatmeal can also simply be added to a bath to minimize hassle, although it may be a bit more challenging to clean out all of the oats properly after a bath, whereas harvesting the cloudy milky substance will end up being a tidier process.

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is a fleshy plant that is generally found in arid areas. They have become common household plants in pots for decorative purposes, so it can be useful to keep one at home. The medicinal properties of this plant surpass that of most other plants, often times hailed as the general skin doctor in every aspect.

Applying Aloe Vera can offer an affordable, almost completely effortless treatment that is effective almost immediately. It will reduce swelling, inflammation and soothe itching and burning.

  1. Break off a fleshy leaf and gently peel off the outer layer of the skin.
  2. Mash up the slimy inside
  3. Apply it to any broken, painful, itchy or inflamed skin for instant relief.
  4. This process can be repeated numerous times per day.

aloe vera leaf

Once it is applied, the gel dries and feel somewhat sticky. This is actually beneficial as it also helps to seal the area and retain a fairly sterile environment while it reduces the inflammation and soothes the itchy sensations that can feel so torturous.

Poison Ivy Will Heal Well At Home

While all of these remedies offer a degree of comfort and assist the body in bringing about its own healing and recovery, they should not replace medical attention should you experience any symptoms such as anaphylactic shock, infection, or other extreme reactions.

Provided you have observed proper sterile habits, treating poison ivy reactions at home can be done without too much pain or discomfort. It is best to leave the blisters to heal on their own, as bursting or puncturing blisters can actually extend the healing time, as well as creating an entry point for bacteria and unwanted impurities to enter the body.

blisters spreading poison ivy

Burst blisters or leaking blisters will not spread the rash further, however. It is normal for poison ivy reactions to last around 4 weeks, depending on the severity of the contact as well as what types of conditions the skin has to heal in. It is normal to only experience some of the symptoms days after the contact was made with the poison ivy plant.

Care should be taken to ensure that the toxin is washed from clothes and not spread from the skin to other household items. If your symptoms persist longer than the expected duration, or if you are symptoms are severe, seek medical attention. Otherwise, we wish you a speedy recovery time!

Tell us about how you got stung by poison ivy, and what was your most effective home remedy for treating the symptoms? We love to hear from you in the comment section below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jerry Mueller
Jerry Mueller

Jerry ‘Boy Scout’ Mueller spends 99% of his time camping or teaching others how to live in the wild. He became an Eagle Scout which is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouting division when he was 17 and after that he still lives the scout life. Jerry always plans neatly every trip, takes leadership very seriously and if you listen to his tips and stories, you can learn tons of useful things.

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