Anyone who’s ever stepped in a patch of poison ivy knows it’s no fun – the itchy red bumps can ruin your whole day. But there’s a simple, straightforward way to treat this nasty reaction so you don’t end up scratching at it for hours and causing further damage to your skin. This home remedy is easy, safe, and effective, so keep it in mind the next time you’re out camping in the woods. You never know when it might come in handy.
Homemade Treatment For Poison Ivy
To start with, you’ll need a few ingredients. These are:
- Rubbing alcohol
- Cool water
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Calamine lotion
- Cotton balls
- Menthol cream
- and cool compresses.
Jewelweed sap is optional – many people swear that it works for treating poison ivy rashes, but the actual scientific evidence is conflicted on this point; some studies say it works(1) while others disagree(2).
First, pour rubbing alcohol on the area that came into contact with poison ivy. It’s important to start this process as soon as you can to head off the outbreak.
Rinse the rubbing alcohol with cold water (not warm or hot water, which can cause the toxins to spread on your skin), then thoroughly wash the area with soap and water, being sure to scrub underneath your fingernails as well.
Remove any clothes that might have come into contact with the plant and wash them in hot water.
Next, keep an eye on the affected area. You may notice a rash developing – this can take the form of redness, bumps on the skin, or even blisters. You won’t be able to cure the rash itself – that will go away on its own – but you can mitigate the itchiness and make it more bearable in the meantime.
Once the rash has begun to form, use over-the-counter anti-itch creams like menthol cream, calamine lotion, and hydrocortisone cream on the area affected by the rash. These creams all have anti-inflammatory properties, which will help control your body’s response to the rash(3). You can also try jewelweed sap at this point, especially if you favor all-natural home remedies to over-the-counter medications.
Finally, apply cool compresses to the affected area, and take an oral antihistimine before bed to make you drowsy and help ease the symptoms.
Knowing When To See A Doctor
Most cases of poison ivy aren’t anything you need to see a doctor for – they’re an inconvenience, but they aren’t life threatening. However, you should seek medical attention if you start to notice any of the following symptoms: swelling of the mouth, throat, tongue or nose, difficulty breathing or swallowing, or a high fever.
You should also check in with a doctor if the rash is all over your body, in your mouth, or on your genitals.
If the rash starts to ooze puss and hasn’t cleared up in a few weeks, that’s also a good reason to see a doctor – you may have caused a secondary infection by scratching too much.