Poison ivy's urushiol-infused sap notoriously causes an itchy — and sometimes painful — skin rash called allergic contact dermatitis. You can contract this rash by brushing up against the plants themselves, or by coming into contact with any animals, clothing, tools or gardening gear that also came into contact with the plant. Now that you have it though, so what are some natural remedies for getting rid of poison ivy?
Please note that none of the natural remedies presented should replace actual medical care — everyone reacts differently, so your allergic reaction may differ from someone else's. Always consult your doctor or dermatologist before attempting any home remedies.
Natural remedies for poison ivy:
There are plenty of medicines that sooth or cure the effects of poison ivy, such as: anti-itch creams, anti-inflammatory drugs, and soothing ointments like calamine lotion. If you’re looking for all-natural cures, however, you might not need to look past your own pantry.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is good for a great number of things, including neutralizing the itchy skin rash caused by poison ivy. According to Medical News Today, ACV washes away the urushiol sap and neutralizes the stinging feeling. To use ACV, apply it directly to the area for several minutes before gently washing and drying the area thoroughly.
Like vinegar, baking soda is also good at neutralizing the itch caused by poison ivy. According to The Allegheny-Kiski Health Foundation, baking soda is a fine natural replacement for calamine lotion when you don’t have it. Mix three teaspoons of baking soda with one tablespoon of water and apply the resultant paste right on the affected areas. This recipe can be scaled up to soothe full-body coverage as well.
Witch hazel is a fine astringent that helps tighten and revitalize skin while dissolving surface oils and cleaning off bacteria. According to Fox News, witch hazel can also provide significant cooling of the urushiol, though it does not remove the sap, like ACV and baking soda do. It’s also effective against poison oak and poison sumac.
Aloe vera cools sunburn like no other natural remedy, and it has a similar effect on poison ivy. According to The Allegheny-Kiski Health Foundation, aloe’s anti-inflammatory properties can also calm the rash enough to allow you to wash off the sap. Store-bought aloe-based lotions work well enough for this, but for best results, try squeezing the gel directly from the plant leaves themselves.
Research at The Cleveland Clinic indicates that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of colloidal oatmeal can affect a number of skin rashes and persistent conditions such as poison ivy. According to Medical News Today, this type of oatmeal has both a soothing and drying effect on the rash, especially when incorporated into a 30-minute, lukewarm soak.
According to New England Today, saltwater, specifically seawater, is the simplest and most effective way to soothe your poison ivy rash. If you’re lucky enough to live close to the ocean, you can just jump right in and wade around for a while. If you do not, a nice warm bath of Epsom salts will do the trick. The saltwater dries out the rash and the still-lingering sap. Actual seawater helps promote healing, as well.