Poison Ivy – Alcohol, water, soap, and maybe a little Jewelweed.

Like a sunburn that appears hours after  forgetting your sunscreen, a poison ivy or oak rash is  insanely itchy and shows up way after your error in judgment of trudging through  three-leaved greenery.   Or worse, you figure out later that the dog you were playing with or the ball you were throwing were coated  in the nasty stuff.

Here are a few tips to avoid the painful condition:

Poison Ivy

Learn to identify it.   It’s really hard to avoid it if you don’t recognize it.   Remember the saying: “Leaves of three, let it be; berries white, danger in sight.”   Here are a few characteristic to help:   pointed leafs in groups of three, woody-looking stem (not spiky and green  like raspberry’s), can have rootlets in the air –  little stings  hanging down from the stems,  leaves are reddish in spring, green in summer, and yellow, orange, or red in the fall, the stem that the  holds the leaves  alternates instead of being  directly opposite it’s  neighbor, the leaf surface is smooth with few or no teeth along its edge.

A great resource is this collection of pictures sent in by readers asking if their plant is poison ivy.   See if you can figure it out, and then read what the expert has to say.

2.   When exposed, wash and wash fast!   In about 10 minutes, the oils in the poison ivy plant will make a permanent bond with your skin, and your rash will show up in the next 12 to 48 hours.   It is a oil, and can be washed away with lots of soapy water.   But, the FDA recommends using rubbing alcohol first since it is a solvent that will remove the oil.    Soap runs the risk of simply moving the oils to other parts of the body.   There is nothing worse than hopping in the shower, soaping up, only to have the oil spread to  your nether regions or body creases  unitentionally.   So, the recommendation is rubbing alcohol first, rinse that off with water, and finally lots of soap and water.   There is also a commercial product called Technu designed specifically to remove the oil.

Finally, remember, oil will hang out indefinitely, even years.   Think of the work boots, hunting jackets, gardening gloves, pet collars, outside balls, and all the other items you may not clean on a regular basis.   The oil will still be there waiting for you when you get back.   Wipe them down with alcohol and water, too.

And remember, the weepy  rash does NOT spread.   Only the oil spreads the rash.   Once you’ve cleaned the oil well, it is NOT contagious.   There are two reasons the rash is commonly believed to spread.

  • People are re-exposed by touching items they haven’t cleaned
  • The areas with the largest dose of oil develop a rash first, while those with a smaller exposure may show up days later, giving an appearance of ‘spreading’.

3.   Once you have the rash, you’re looking at 14 to 20 days before it runs it’s course.   Not fun at all.   And all modern medicine can do for you is offer  a Benedryl pill or  cortisone cream.   Here are some additional  options:

Kitchen remedies:

  • Oatmeal – try Aveeno products, or make your own by running some oatmeal through the blender.   Add a little water to make a soothing paste, add it to a cool to warm bath and soak for a while, or simply cook up some oatmeal, plaster it on the rash and let it dry and flake off on it’s own.   Warning – you will look funny, and others may laugh.
  • Baking Soda – Add 1/2 c. to a bath, or mix it into a paste and apply.
  • Vinegar – Dabbing vinegar onto the rash has been known to help the itch, and dry out the rash.
  • Calamine or Caladryl lotion – a staple of itchy skin condition, these lotions are great remedies to try and relieve the itching.

Herbal remedies:

  • Jewelweed
  • Jewelweed –
  • also known as ‘touch-me-not’ is one of the most well known herbal remedy to poison ivy.   The two plants usually grow together which makes jewelweed easy to find.   There are a few ways to use it.   Crush the juicy stem and rub on the skin.    Chop the herb, boil in water, and strain.   The pretty orange liquid can be used immediately or frozen for later.   Finally, chopped herb can be soaked in  alchohol or witch hazel  to make an  extract.   It is also available in a  natural soap combined with other  soothing ingredients.   Years of anectdotal evidence supports using jewelweed, but  sadly, a small scientific study of 10 people showed no improvement.   As with many herbal choices, at least it is a safe option to try, without the typical side effects of prescription medications.
  • Tea tree oil – known for its antiseptic and healing ability, a small amount mixed in a carrier oil, or a cream containing tea tree oil can help speed the healing process and minimize the chance of secondary infections that are common when the rash is scratched repeatedly.
  • Comfrey – well known for its ability to help heal injuries and reduce the inflammation.   Steep the chopped leaves in boiling water and apply the leaves as a hot poultice or soak a rag in the ‘tea’ and apply as an extract.   Another option is an ointment containing comfrey and other healing herbs.
  • Aloe Vera – commonly used for inflammatory skin conditions like sunburns.   Aloe, especially fresh, can help soothe and heal  the itchy, painful rash.
  • Plantain – a common yard weed with an effective drawing and healing action that works well on bites, stings, infections, and inflammed rashes.    Harvest the fresh leaves, crush or chew them, and apply them with a bandage to hold them in place.   Caution: repeated use can cause some browning of the skin, harmless but it may bother some people.

I hope this information helps some poison ivy/oak sufferers, or at least directs you to what you need.

DocMisty

Like a sunburn that appears hours after  forgetting your sunscreen, a poison ivy or oak rash is  insanely itchy and shows up way after your error in judgement of trudging through  three-leaved greenery.   Or worse, you figure out later that the dog you were playing or the ball you were throwing were coated  in the nasty stuff.

Here are a few tips to avoid the painful condition:

Poison Ivy1.   Learn to identify it.   It’s really hard to avoid it if you  don’t recognize it.   Remember the saying: “Leaves of three, let it be; berries white, danger in sight.”   Here are a few characteristic to help:    pointed leafs in groups of three, woody-looking stem (not spiky and green  like raspberry’s), can have rootlets in the air –  little stings  hanging down from the stems,  leaves are reddish in spring, green in summer, and yellow, orange, or red in the fall, the stem that the  holds the leaves  alternates instead of being  directly opposite it’s  neighbor, the leaf surface is smooth with few or no teeth along its edge.

A great resource is this collection of pictures sent in by readers asking if their plant is poison ivy.   See if you can figure it out, and then read what the expert has to say.

2.   When exposed, wash and wash fast!   In about 10 minutes, the oils in the poison ivy plant will make a permanent bond with your skin, and your rash will show up in the next 12 to 48 hours.   It is a oil, and can be washed away with lots of soapy water.   But, the FDA recommends using rubbing alcohol first since it is a solvent that will remove the oil.    Soap runs the risk of simply moving the oils to other parts of the body.   There is nothing worse than hopping in the shower, soaping up, only to have the oil spread to  your nether regions or body creases  unitentionally.   So, the recommendation is rubbing alcohol first, rinse that off with water, and finally lots of soap and water.   There is also a commercial product called Technu designed specifically to remove the oil.

Finally, remember, oil will hang out indefinitely, even years.   Think of the work boots, hunting jackets, gardening gloves, pet collars, outside balls, and all the other items you may not clean on a regular basis.   The oil will still be there waiting for you when you get back.   Wipe them down with alcohol and water, too.

And remember, the weepy  rash does NOT spread.   Only the oil spreads the rash.   Once you’ve cleaned the oil well, it is NOT contagious.   There are two reasons the rash is commonly believed to spread.

  • People are re-exposed by touching items they haven’t cleaned
  • The areas with the largest dose of oil develop a rash first, while those with a smaller exposure may show up days later, giving an appearance of ‘spreading’.

3.   Once you have the rash, you’re looking at 14 to 20 days before it runs it’s course.   Not fun at all.   And all modern medicine can do for you is offer  a Benedryl pill or  cortisone cream.   Here are some additional  options:

Kitchen remedies:

  • Oatmeal – try Aveeno products, or make your own by running some oatmeal through the blender.   Add a little water to make a soothing paste, add it to a cool to warm bath and soak for a while, or simply cook up some oatmeal, plaster it on the rash and let it dry and flake off on it’s own.   Warning – you will look funny, and others may laugh.
  • Baking Soda – Add 1/2 c. to a bath, or mix it into a paste and apply.
  • Vinegar – Dabbing vinegar onto the rash has been known to help the itch, and dry out the rash.
  • Calamine or Caladryl lotion – a staple of itchy skin condition, these lotions are great remedies to try and relieve the itching.

Herbal remedies:

  • Jewelweed Jewelweed – also known as ‘touch-me-not’ is one of the most well known herbal remedy to poison ivy.   The two plants usually grow together which makes jewelweed easy to find.   There are a few ways to use it.   Crush the juicy stem and rub on the skin.    Chop the herb, boil in water, and strain.   The pretty orange liquid can be used immediately or frozen for later.   Finally, chopped herb can be soaked in  alchohol or witch hazel  to make an  extract.   It is also available in a  natural soap combined with other  soothing ingredients.   Years of anectdotal evidence supports using jewelweed, but  sadly, a small scientific study of 10 people showed no improvement.   As with many herbal choices, at least it is a safe option to try, without the typical side effects of prescription medications.
  • Tea tree oil – known for its antiseptic and healing ability, a small amount mixed in a carrier oil, or a cream containing tea tree oil can help speed the healing process and minimize the chance of secondary infections that are common when the rash is scratched repeatedly.
  • Comfrey – well known for its ability to help heal injuries and reduce the inflammation.   Steep the chopped leaves in boiling water and apply the leaves as a hot poultice or soak a rag in the ‘tea’ and apply as an extract.   Another option is an ointment containing comfrey and other healing herbs.
  • Aloe Vera – commonly used for inflammatory skin conditions like sunburns.   Aloe, especially fresh, can help soothe and heal  the itchy, painful rash.
  • Plantain – a common yard weed with an effective drawing and healing action that works well on bites, stings, infections, and inflammed rashes.    Harvest the fresh leaves, crush or chew them, and apply them with a bandage to hold them in place.   Caution: repeated use can cause some browning of the skin, harmless but it may bother some people.

I hope this information helps some poison ivy/oak sufferers, or at least directs you to what you need.

DocMisty

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10 comments to Poison Ivy – Alcohol, water, soap, and maybe a little Jewelweed.

  • […] can also look for another native plant that always grows near poison ivy called “jewelweed”, related to our familiar annual flower impatiens (look closely at the leaves to see the […]

  • […] can also look for another native plant that always grows near poison ivy called “jewelweed”, related to our familiar annual flower impatiens (look closely at the leaves to see the […]

  • Sandra

    Zanfwl works too! I have poison ivy right now on my arms and I have been using Zanfel! go the their website and you can read all the testimonials! This stuff should be renamed “By The Grace of God” because it works! It is expensive, Walgreens sells it at $39.99 and Wal-Mart sells it for $32.99. I chose Wal-Mart. It is worth every penny!!!!! CVS sells it too, but they were out of it at the time. It was also mentioned on the Paul Harvey show that it really works.
    I am NOT a paid person to say this!

    http://www.zanfel.com/help/
    You can also read more reviews here: http://www.google.com/products/catalog?q=zanfel&cid=15222745404159740533&os=reviews

    Good luck to all of you if you have poison ivy, and if I helped just one person by commenting, then I’ve done my job.

    Blessings

  • Thats some quality fundamentals there, already know some of that, but you can always learn . I doubt a “kid” could put together such information as dolphin278 suggested. Maybe he’s just attempting to be “controversial? lol

  • Glad it helped. It grows along the side of creeks and wooded areas here in the Midwest, so it’s a great and cheap solution.

    Misty

  • Tried the jewellweed for poison ivy. WOW almost instant releif from itching. Seems to be drying up in just a day or so. Fantastic and cheap!

  • Super-Duper site! I am loving it!! Will come back again – taking you feeds also, Thanks.

  • Thanks Andy!

    It’s nice to get such great feedback. I’m glad the article was helpful. We’ve had enough experience with poison oak, I was hoping to share others the same troubles.

    Misty

  • Excellent blog post with a very well written article , it was what i was looking for on google , i digged your blog post and stumble up your blog in exchange of your great information so you will notice a traffic increase to it.

    Cheers !

    Andy Colleman

  • I just have to say the first time you are exposed it can take up to 10 DAYS for the rash to appear. I know this from first hand experience, my son was exposed and then 10 days later while on a trip to Washington DC he developed this “mysterious” rash, all over his body, face, legs, arms, everywhere except his back. Some possible causes, bed bugs, scabies, poison oak. But he hadn’t been in nature for 10 days, so we assumed it wasn’t that. Upon returning home we went to a dermatologist who said it was poison oak and that it can take that long to be exposed.

    I wish I had known that then, because I was freaked out thinking it was scabies or bedbugs.

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