Many enjoyable nature outings have sent people home with a rather unpleasant souvenir. Some 10 to 50 million people in the United States are affected by poison ivy each year. In fact, this poisonous plant constitutes the single most common cause of allergic reactions.
When you come in contact with the toxic leaves, stems, or roots of a poison ivy plant, it can give you an unbearable itchy rash.
Other common symptoms include blisters and pain, and occasionally there may be intense burning, inflammation, and fever. You must try hard not to itch the rash as it can irritate the reacting skin and potentially lead to infection. It’s also important to keep the affected areas clean.
A poison ivy rash will eventually go away on its own, but the itching can drive a person absolutely mad. There are several home remedies that effectively alleviate the various symptoms of poison ivy.
1. Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol is a solvent containing 70 percent isopropyl or absolute alcohol and is used as a topical application. It has disinfectant, soothing and cooling properties that can help get rid of the symptoms of poison ivy. It also sterilizes the affected skin and helps prevent infection.
- Spread rubbing alcohol over the affected area and wrap it with gauze.
- Do this several times a day for two to three days.
If you apply rubbing alcohol immediately after coming in contact with the poisonous plant, it can help slow down and minimize the extent of the rash as well as your discomfort.
2. Banana Peel
Banana peel can also come to your rescue due to its soothing and cooling properties. This remedy is very helpful if you have blisters that have broken open.
- Peel the skin off a ripe banana.
- Rub the inside of the peel on the irritated skin area for instant cooling relief.
- Repeat the process two or three times a day.
The avenanthramides and phenols present in oatmeal contain anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce inflammation caused by the skin’s reaction to urushiol, the substance in the poison ivy plant that irritates the skin.
- Boil oatmeal in water, allow it to cool for a few minutes, and then apply it to the affected area while it is still warm. Let it dry on its own and then wash it off with lukewarm water. This simple remedy will give you relief from itching.
- Alternatively, add a few tablespoons of oatmeal powder to warm bath water and soak the affected skin area in the water for about 30 minutes. This helps dry out a rash that has started to blister, and also relieves the itching. It will also soften and moisturize your skin, which helps lock in moisture and protect skin from exterior irritants.
4. White Vinegar
White vinegar’s acid content can help prevent a poison ivy rash from spreading. A cold vinegar compress will dry out the rash as well as reduce itching.
- Mix one-half cup of white vinegar with one and one-half cups of water. Chill the solution in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
- Moisten a cloth in the solution and press it onto the affected skin area for two minutes. Wait a few minutes and then repeat.
- Do this for several minutes once daily for a week or two.
5. Baking Soda
Another classic homemade cure for poison ivy is baking soda. Baking soda is a good drying agent and has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce the itching and inflammation associated with poison ivy.
- Mix three teaspoons of baking soda with one teaspoon of water to make a thick paste. Apply this paste to the rash and allow it to dry. Then rinse it off with cold water. Do this three times daily to speed up the healing process.
- Another option is to take a soothing baking soda bath. Simply pour a cup of baking soda into lukewarm bathwater and stir it gently. Soak in the bath to relieve your symptoms.
Watermelon rind acts as a cold compress, and the juice helps dry out blisters.
- Gently rub chilled watermelon rind over the rash. Let it dry on its own. Do this three or four times a day until you notice improvement.
- Alternatively, mash some watermelon along with the rind and chill it in the refrigerator for one hour. Apply the paste to the skin and let it dry naturally for soothing relief. Do this several times a day.