9+ Home Remedies to Get Rid of Poison Ivy, Poison Oak & Sumac

  1. Baking Soda

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is another powerful astringent that can help treat the rash caused by poison ivy. Mix three teaspoons of baking soda with one teaspoon of water to form a coarse paste and apply it on the affected area. You can also mix half a cup of baking soda into a bathtub filled with lukewarm water and soak yourself in it.

  1. Tea

Tea, either green or black has generous quantities of tannic acid, which is an astringent. There are a couple of ways in which you can use tea bags to treat the symptoms of poison ivy.

After you have used tea bags to prepare a cup of tea, put them in the freezer for a few minutes to cool them down. Apply the cold tea bags on the affected area. Feel free to apply this as often as you would like.

You can also put about 12 teabags in a bathtub filled with lukewarm water and soak yourself in it for about 20 minutes.

  1. Coffee

Coffee contains chlorogenic acid, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Brew a strong cup of black coffee and then cool it in a fridge. Apply the cold coffee with a cotton ball on the affected area as many times as you would like!

  1. Acorn

Dr. Alan Dattner, a holistic dermatologist from New York says that acorns contain tannins as well, which can be used to treat the symptoms of poison ivy. Simply crack a few acorns and boil them in water. Strain the liquid and cool it in a fridge. Apply the cold acorn tea to the affected area with a cotton ball. You may apply this treatment as often as you would like.

  1. Cucumber

Cucumber is known for its soothing and mild emollient properties; hence it can be used to get some relief from the itching sensation caused by the rash from poison ivy. You can either use cucumber slices or a cucumber paste to get relief.

  • Cucumber slices: Chop up cucumbers in circular slices (the way they appear in a salad) and gently place them on your rash. Use medical tapes to hold them in place. Keep them on till the slices are dry to the touch. This treatment can be applied several times during the course of the day.
  • Cucumber paste: Throw some pieces of cucumbers in a blender to make a thick paste. Apply this paste on the affected area and hold it in place using gauze and medical tapes. Keep it on for at least thirty minutes. Feel free to apply this treatment as many times as you would like.
  1. Ice Packs/Cold compresses

This is another great way to get some relief from the itch. If you own an ice-pack, apply it on the affected area for a few minutes every hour. The cold from the ice constricts your blood vessels, thus significantly reducing the flow of the allergens that is causing you to itch.

If you do not own an ice-pack, take a napkin or a hand-towel, soak it in water, lock it in a Ziploc or a similar sandwich bag and put it in the freezer for about fifteen minutes. Feel free to apply this on your rash the same way you would apply an ice-pack.

You can also wrap a few ice-cubes in a washcloth or use a bag of frozen vegetables.

  1. Whole Milk

According to Dr. Robert Sommer, a practicing dermatologist from Portland, ME, cold compresses with whole milk instead of water is also extremely effective for getting some relief from the symptoms of poison ivy. Please note that this treatment needs to be used in conjunction with the other home remedies as it provides some relief from the itch, but does not cure the underlying symptoms. Following is how you will apply this treatment:

  • Soak a hand-towel in some whole milk and then wring the excess milk from it. The cloth should be damp, not runny.
  • Apply it on the affected area for about 15 minutes. The cold provides some relief from the itch whereas the fat from the milk acts as a lubricant.
  • Wash the area with some lukewarm water.
  1. Banana Peels

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that rubbing the inside of a banana peel on the rash may provide some relief from poison ivy. This does not have any side effects (besides the sticky feeling) hence you may feel free to use this as many times as you would like.

The rinds of a watermelon can be used exactly the same way as well.

  1. Jewelweed

Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) is an herb that grows naturally in the wild. This may prove to be a figurative life-saver if you accidentally rub against some poison ivy while on a hiking trail. This is what jewelweed looks like. It is about 3 to 5 ft. tall, has oval-shaped green leaves with an edge that looks serrated. While in full-bloom, jewelweed has a trumpet-shaped bright-orange or yellow flower and it looks like a jewel is hanging from a necklace (hence the name).

If you are in the wild, crush some leaves from the jewelweed plant and apply it at the point of contact. Tie a handkerchief or a hand-towel around it to hold it in place.

If you have brought back some jewelweed leaves with you, (or if it grows on your backyard) then do the following:

  • Brew jewelweed leaves in boiling water till the liquid turns dark.
  • Pour this liquid in ice-trays and freeze them.
  • Periodically rub one of these ice-cubes on the rash to expedite the healing process. Make sure you do this in short bursts as increased exposure to the ice-cubes may damage your skin further!
  1. Goldenseal

Goldenseal, also known as wild curcuma (Hydrastis canadensis) is an herb that is native to North America. It can treat a wide variety of skin ailments, including the symptoms of poison ivy due to its astringent, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties.

There are a few different ways by which you can apply this treatment:

  • You can mix powdered goldenseal root with some warm lukewarm water to form a paste and apply it on the affected area.
  • Goldenseal root can also be brewed into a tea, which will help you fight the affliction from the inside.
  • Goldenseal supplements are available at your local health store as well!

Please note that consuming goldenseal root is not recommended for pregnant women as it may stimulate the uterus. People suffering from high blood pressure should refrain from consuming goldenseal as well!

  1. Antihistamines (OTC)

The incessant itching may make it really hard for you to fall asleep. As the rash or blisters caused by poison ivy, oak or sumac are an allergic reaction, taking some over the counter (OTC) antihistamines right before you go to bed may provide some temporary relief and may induce drowsiness, thus allowing you to fall asleep!

How Long Does the Rash Last?

Most rashes caused by poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac are mild and last anywhere between5 to 12 days. However, in severe cases the rash may last for up to 30 day, or even longer.

When to See a Doctor

If you have inhaled the smoke from a burning poison ivy plant, then you need to seek the help of a doctor right away. Besides that, you should also consult a physician during the following circumstances:

  • The swelling or rashes are appearing on your eyes, nose, throat, mouth or genitals.
  • If there is pus in your blisters.
  • If the blisters are not responding to the home remedies, provided they have been continuously applied for a week.
  • If the sufferer develops a fever greater than 100 F (37.8 C)

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