July 26th, 2012

Natural Remedies for Poison Ivy

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Groovy Green Livin Natural Remedies for Poison Ivy

Leaves of three let them be

Did you know that seven out of ten people are allergic to poison ivy? We just returned from a family vacation with one child covered from head to toe with poison ivy. Poison ivy symptoms are pretty straight forward:

  • Skin is extremely red and itchy.
  • There are red streaks or general redness where the plant brushed against the skin.
  • Small bumps or larger raised areas are found in random spots where the plant oil touched your skin.
  • Skin blisters and fluid may leak out.

Preventing poison ivy

The saying goes “leaves of three let them be”. Learning how to identify poison ivy and then avoiding it is the best way to prevent an allergic reaction. It’s true that poison ivy always comes in “leaves of three”, but so do many other plants.

  • Learn to identify poison ivy if you’re allergic.
  • Teach children not to touch unidentified plants.
  • Remove clothing and wash all exposed skin carefully after a hike.
  • Be aware: dogs and cats often don’t get poison ivy buy they can carry the oil on their fur.

Natural Treatments for Poison Ivy

We started off applying over-the-counter itch relief medicine, but that didn’t work. The rash was too wide-spread. I decided to reach out to some of my trusted green resources to see what suggestions they had for keeping poison ivy in check.

BANANA REMEDY

Amity, the Editor of Green Child Magazine, had interesting advice: Pour rubbing alcohol on the affected area and then wash it immediately with cool water and soap to remove as much of the plant sap as possible. Dry the skin and apply the meat side of a banana peel on the skin to help dry out the rash.

JEWELWEED

Abbie from Farmer’s Daughter, Danika the Beauty Editor from Greenwala and Anna from Green Talk all suggested trying jewelweed.  Jewelweed is a plant that’s been used for centuries to treat poison ivy. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to whip up this remedy, but maybe I’ll whip up a batch just in case there’s a next time. Click HERE for the recipe.

SOAP AND WATER

Tamara, the Executive Director of Lead Safe America has used this remedy several times and swears by it:  1. get in the bath. 2. get out of the bath, 3. do not dry off, 4. while wet lather up completely (on affected areas) with IVORY soap. 5. do not rinse. 6. let soap residue dry on body – it will sap all of the oils out of the poison ivy.

BAKING SODA AND TURMERIC

A paste made of baking soda and water works well for itchy bug bites and the same is true for poison ivy. A  Turmeric paste is also helpful. Turmeric contains a nutrient called curcumin and it’s known for its anti-inflammatory properties. The problem with these remedies is they can get very messy and are difficult to apply when the rash covers large portions of the body.

OATMEAL OR EPSOM SALT BATH

Andrea from Frugally Sustainable shares two bath “recipes” to help sooth poison ivy.

Oatmeal bath. In a blender, blend 2 cups of oatmeal until powder in form. Then add to a bath filled with warm water. Soak in the tub for upto 20 minutes. Repeat as needed for itch relief.

Epsom Salts bath. Add 2 cups of Epsom Salt to a bath of warm water and soak in the tub for 15-20 minutes.

BLOW DRYER

Elise Marshall Jones of MommyBites says when her husband had poison ivy he swore by “burning” them with the hottest setting on the hair dryer. Every time he itched he would go get that blow dryer and crank it up.

I’m not sure this would work with a young child, but for adults it sounds like it would at least ease the itch.

Have you tried any of these natural poison ivy remedies? What works? What doesn’t?

[Photo used under Creative Commons from John /Flickr]

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9 Responses to “Natural Remedies for Poison Ivy”

  1. I am getting itchy just reading about it.

    Thank you for sharing the remedies. Sorry you guys had to go through it, no fun.

  2. Hey Marsha, he’s doing much better now (4 days later). I am proof that it’s not contagious. I’ve been smearing stuff all over him for days and I’m just fine.

  3. I am glad he is better. The itch is the worse part and I haven’t really found anything that stops it. Prevention is the key. I always wear my gloves when gardening now since I get poison ivy like rashes from many plants.

  4. Hi Lori. My little guy was covered in the spring. Baths with baking soda and a few drops of tea tree oil helped. Also, Burts Bees makes a poison ivy soap that contains several natural ingredients such as jewelweed and tea tree oil. It has kind of a strong odor, but if he can tolerate it, I’ve read it works wonders. Whole Foods in our area carries it. Good luck and hope he is all cleared up soon.

    P.S. I fully agree it is NOT contagious even if oozing. Have confirmed several times with my doctor and I as well got nothing even with lots of cuddling!

  5. A soaking bath in Colloidal oatmeal will make a huge difference and is a relief from any type of all over skin rash. You can pick it up at CVS in packets.

  6. Thanks so much Karen. I saw the Burts Bees soap at Whole Foods. We opted for a homeopathic poison ivy remedy. We are now onto calamine lotion, baking soda and homeopathy. It’s brutal!
    Thanks for the tips.

  7. Thanks Jonathan. We might have to give it a try.

  8. in our town we have lots of poison ivy plants, the itch and rashes that you get from it is just annoying.^

    My very own blog
    http://www.healthmedicinelab.com/what-causes-yeast-infections/

  9. [...] every summer someone’s covered from head-to-toe in poison ivy and I’m done. I have the natural remedies for poison ivy down-I’ve had to use them so many [...]

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. I like to make noise and stir the pot especially when an issue hits home and effects the health of our families. Join me as I make some noise and share along the way tips for living a green and healthy life. Read more.

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