How To: The Top 5 Home Remedies for Treating Poison Ivy and Poison Oak Rashes

The Top 5 Home Remedies for Treating Poison Ivy and Poison Oak Rashes

The Top 5 Home Remedies for Treating Poison Ivy and Poison Oak Rashes

Summer's here, and that means a lot of us are going to be taking some time off to enjoy the great outdoors. Unfortunately, that also means a lot of us are going to be accidentally running face first into some poison ivy or oak. Instead of suffering through the itch though, why not leave prepared with some easy, homemade remedies to combat that urushiol?

Medicated Body Powder / Rubbing Alcohol

This is a quick and probably the most reliable method for treating poison ivy and oak with some simple off-the-shelf ingredients. You'll need:

  • Medicated body powder (such as Gold Bond)
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton swabs
  • Gauze

Simple clean the afflicted area, dry it thoroughly, then spread a layer of rubbing alcohol over it. Then sprinkle the body powder over the alcohol to create a "paste" of sorts. Continue until the area is completely covered, then wrap it with gauze.

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This will keep the area clean and dry, while also helping to alleviate some of the itchiness.

Banana Peels

If for whatever reason the itch is not subsiding, or you don't have access to rubbing alcohol, body powder, or gauze, a banana peel can do in a pinch as a temporary solution.

Simply rub the inside of the peel on the irritated area. This should hopefully provide you with a bit of relief as you search for a better cure.

Potato / Oatmeal Pastes

If you're short on body powder, you can also use foods such as potatoes as a substitute. Potato is often used to treat a number of inflammatory conditions, such as sunburn, and works just as well here.

Thoroughly blend the potato in a mixer, then apply that "paste" over the itchy area. Oatmeal is another alternative, either as a paste or added to bathwater for you to soak in.

It is still a good idea to start with rubbing alcohol before applying any anti-itching remedies.

Vodka and Vinegar

In a pinch, a high-proof alcoholic beverage can be instead of rubbing alcohol to sterilize the area and help prevent infection. Much as you would with a rubbing alcohol, apply it directly to the affected area of skin immediately after coming into contact with the ivy. This works because the alcohol will wash away the urushiol oil, the allergen in poison ivy and oak that causes the itchiness.

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If you don't have access to vodka or any high-proof alcohols, vinegar is also a great way to calm down that itch.


If you're really out of luck, and don't have access to any alcohol or food, you can try coffee as a last resort. A cup of cold, black coffee is a popular way to treat poison ivy. Coffee contains chlorogenic acid, which acts an anti-inflammatory and may help soothe the irritation.

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As with all of these methods though, the sooner you get it properly washed and sterilized, the sooner it's going to feel better.

Images by Demand Media, The Daily Green, DIY Life, Shaw Girl, Crystal, Iwan Gabovitch, APC


A friend discovered that a minor case can be cured quickly by swimming in a chlorine pool! The water takes the oil off, but dilutes it so no one else can be affected. The chlorine dries the rash, and the cool water soothes the itch. She found that one nice soak is sufficient to cure her smaller rashes!

We take Sasquatch Itch Cream camping with us because, as you know, nothing really short of cortisone really makes the rash resolve any faster. So we use this to help manage the itch and let the poison oak run it's course. It's like fighting fire with fire, as it is formulated to work on the nerves that carry the itch to the brain. Be careful though because it was too strong for our 4 year old until we mixed it with Dove cream. Tiger Balm also does the same thing by the way but smells horrendous.

the best way I've ever known of curing Poison Ivy, Oak or Sumac is to take a dip in the ocean. The salt water dries up the rash in a couple days. However- if you don't live near the ocean- that may be a problem.

LOL! That just figures. I am COVERED with rash right now and live about 4 blocks from the ocean. Right now we have red tide though, so if I did that, I'd wind up smelling like dead fish and have a respiratory infection too! Just my luck!

I've heard of people putting straight bleach on the blisters to dry them out- I imagine that is very painful- but they told me it is the best way besides going to the doctor for a shot.

I've also been told that the rash won't "spread" but I know it does as I had a serious poison sumac rash while in GA in the field for a week- it started on my neck & being in the heat & sweating is spread down my entire left side- I would imagine this was because I was not in a situation I could wash and cleansed the oil off the affected area & it traveled down. Needless to say it was so bad I required medical attention.

Straight bleach burns. Dawn dish soap (original) is just as effective because it dissolves the toxic oils -(chemistry like-dissolves like) with nontoxic oils. dries up and helps prevent spreading. Same way it cuts thru grease and oil spills it cuts plant oil, which is what causes the reaction

Dawn is really the best because it cleans and stops the spreading of the oil. When you wash with dawn you also get the oil out from under your nails, the oil gets under yournails and spread to a new spot when you scratch.

Peroxide also works wonders, i've tried this first hand after a bicycle accident where i flipped in to a poison ivy patch, i didn't kno it was poison ivy because it was dark out, i started to realized it was poison ivy when i got home because i was becoming very itchy. next morning i had bumps and rashes all over so i grabbed the first thing i seen which was peroxide and poured it on. poison ivy dried up fast and I continued on with my life.. Peroxide is what i use now for my children when they come into contact with the plant... and i dont use it alot seeing im surrounded by the plant. where i live the poison ivy floats in the air in the beginning spring during pollination and things could get bad... if you let it

I have been battling a Poison Sumac for 2 weeks . I had no clue as I picked my tomatoes I was brushing up against this wicked 5 leaf plant for a whole week . I have it on most of my body but the bumps are tiny and drying out now finally . II discovered that taking a hot shower and washing off with dish liquid is awesome and letting my skin air dry no towels I found although it feels so good but you spread it that way trust me. I also wipe off with alcohol soaked cotton balls .Steroids don't do well with me and if I can avoid the shot I will . I was lucky this time but I now know what to do if exposed again and I more than likely will since I'm surrounded by woods .

BLUE DAWN DISHSOAP next time!!!!!

Everything depends on timing. IF you get to the Dawn within a few minutes of exposure it would work. After 5 or 10 minutes, not reliably.

We live near acres of poison ivy with 4 young boys. We learned the hard way what works and what does not. Recognized fast, rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer or soap is OK. But the real problem is later recognition. We have had reasonable long term and repeated success with spermicidal jelly (yes- nonoxynol 9 is a very good solvent), mineral spirits, acetone, and starting ether. For pure convenience ND SAFETY we have a large CONTAINER of mineral spirits in the garage at all times, and the kids are now old enough to rub themselves down on suspicion. When in doubt, wash it out.

To stop itching:

  1. Put the icy part under Extremely Hot Water for 1 to 2 Sec.
  2. It will stun the nerve endings and will stop the itching.
  3. The Pain will go away from the hot part in 30sec's and it will feel better for 4-5 hours.
  4. A video guide:

I find that beer and regular vinegar mixed together can create a wash that kills the oils if you find out you touch poison ivy/oak. It also helps to kill the rash.

I mix equal parts of beer and Vin. put it on, rub gently, leave it on for a good few mins than wash it off with regular soap..

I can walk through the stuff and not break out in any rash, but my family can't get 5 ft of the stuff without breaking out. So, I found a mixture that helps them not break out, or clear a breakout..

I live in a poison oak Forest. It's crazy how much is here. I get the stuff almost weekly. I don't use toxins on my skin and I keep it under control ..step one...I shower in cool water when I get done working. That's not in a panic the second I think I've touched it, it's when I finish.

I use glycerin soap.

whenever I do develop the rash, it's usually after I've done something like sit down on the plant or worked pulling the junk out of my garden, etc.

On those occasions I get the rash...I use my loofa or scrbber to pop all the blisters I can. I find if I leave those blisters, the allergic reaction spreads. I don't think it's more urushiol....I think my skin just freaks out from The irritation.

And here is the key:. After I air dry a while, I take the glycerin bar and rub it on.The rash for a few seconds. I don't rinse it off.

It makes my skin a little dry, but it dries up the rash and I move on.
If I've gotten a lot of urushiol, I may have to do that once an hour, but by the end of the day, I am fine again.

For me, the key is to act each and every time blisters form. Some people say never scratch them....I say scratch away but only in the presence of soapy water.

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