Poison ivy and oak are toxic plants. Research conducted by American Academy of Dermatology shows that nearly 85% people are sensitive to an allergic reaction in contact with poison ivy and oak (1).
An oily toxin- Urushiol is the main substance in these plants that triggers the allergic reaction or contact dermatitis. (2)
Following are the ways of exposure to urushiol:
- A direct contact with poison ivy and oak. Urushiol is present in every part of the plants. So, any direct contact with the plants may expose you to the toxin.
- Urushiol is very sticky and persistent. it’s difficult to detect it because it’s colorless and odorless. You may pick up the toxin from your gardening tools and pets’ fur if these have contacted the plants.
- If you burn the plants, the smoke may cause serious lungs allergy. (3)
Within the first 12 to 72 hours of exposure to the toxin, you may develop an intolerable itch, red bumps or rashes and swelling on the affected area.
This contact dermatitis may persist for 2 to 3 weeks. The situation may turn worse if you leave it untreated. You may experience severe itch and enlarged blisters on the skin full of puss.
An over the counter corticosteroid medication to lower the symptoms of poison ivy and oak is costly. Moreover, it comes with the backlash of side effects. (4)
In this article, you’ll learn some home remedies for poison ivy and oak rashes and blisters. You’ll also get tips to prevent contact with these poisonous plants.
Effective Natural Remedies for Poison Ivy and Oak Rash
1. Dish Soap and Cold Water
Prevention is the best remedy. If you have the slightest doubt of poison ivy and oak exposure the first step is to run for cool water. Research shows that only a billionth gram of urushiol can set off the itch and rashes. Your skin absorbs 50% of the toxin in less than ten minutes. (5)
When the dendritic cells of the skin transfer the toxin to the lymph nodes, the t-cells in the blood starts to destroy the healthy cells of the affected area. A timely thorough shower in cool running water can wash off the toxin significantly.
Using a dishwashing soap can be extra beneficial. Detergent has the grease cutting agents. The offending urushiol is an oily toxin. So, it is advised that you wash your affected skin with dish soap.
If the urushiol has already started its havoc, a cool water shower can give comfort and ease to the rashes.
Note: Note to wear gloves when you wash the affected area. It is advisable to take a wash every time you come back from a walk in the garden.
Heck, did you know that the remedy for poison ivy rash is in your own backyard?
Jewelweed is a therapeutic plant of Impatiens capensis family. It has oval almost trumpet-shaped leaves. This savior plant in your backyard is nature’s antidote to poison ivy and oak blisters. Jewelweed has chemical compounds that can counteract against the offending urushiol and allergic reaction in your body. (6)
How to use jewelweed to relieve poison ivy rashes:
- Take some jewelweed leaves and the tender stems
- Crush them and release the juice
- Apply the herbal juice to the affected skin
- Sooner you do this, less the risk of allergic reaction and developing rash
Note: You can find a shady little space in your garden to grow few jewelweeds. It can help you with preventing ringworm and wart as well.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar or ACV is a ‘cure-all’ home remedy. ACV is fermented apple juice mixed with acetic acid. The alcohol content of the vinegar works ideally to ease the itching and heal poison ivy and oak blisters gradually. (7)
If you have a stock of ACV in your kitchen try this process right away.
How to use ACV for treating poison ivy rashes and blisters:
- Dilute ½ cup of ACV with cool water
- Bathe your affected skin with the solution
- Let it air dry
- Wash off with normal water
- Repeat the process twice a day for a week
Note: Always use raw or ‘mother’ ACV for the best result.
4. Lemon Juice and Honey
This property is potent to heal skin disorders. Particularly it can reduce the size of blisters and ease the irritations.
A power combo of lemon and honey can speed up the healing process of poison ivy rash.
How to soothe poison ivy rashes using lemon and honey:
- Add 4 tbsp. Of lemon juice to 2 tbsp. Of honey and mix them well
- Dab cotton swab on the mixture and apply it to the affected skin
- Let it stay on the skin for 20 minutes
- Wash off with cool water
- Repeat the process twice a day for a week.
5. Baking Soda
Sodium bicarbonate or baking soda is a super ingredient for baking cakes and cleaning household. You’ll be surprised to know that it is one of the best home remedies for poison ivy rashes.
You can dust your skin with baking soda to get rid of urushiol oil residues. According to American Academy of Dermatology, a baking soda bath can significantly ease the irritations of poison ivy rash and reduce inflammations. (10)
Moreover, a baking soda paste can dehydrate the swellings and reduce their size.
Below you have two methods of baking soda remedy for poison ivy rash:
Baking Soda Paste to relieve poison ivy itch and rashes:
- Add some cold water to 2 tbsp. of baking soda and mix them well
- Apply the paste on the rashes like a layer
- Let it dry on the skin
- Repeat the process daily until the blisters dry off
Note: For broken blisters soak a sterile gauze on the paste and lay it over the affected area as a bandage. Change the gauze every time you repeat the process.
Baking soda bath for poison ivy rash treatment:
- Mix a cup of baking soda with your bath water
- Take a thorough shower with the solution
- Repeat this process if the rash is widespread in your body
6. Oatmeal Bath
Oatmeal is full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties to treat skin disorders of all sorts. An oatmeal bath can be one of the simplest home remedies for rash. The starch of oats meal can create a protective film or powdery coat over your skin.
This can help the blisters to dehydrate and dry off soon. It eases the irritations and lessens your urge to scratch the rashes.
Oatmeal bath for poison ivy rash natural remedy:
- On a tub add a cup of oatmeal to lukewarm bath water
- Completely immerse yourself in the water for 30 minutes
- Let your body air dry
- No further wash is necessary
This cool veggie can bring immediate comfort to your poison ivy rash. Cucumber is effective in relieving the itch as well.
How to use cucumber for poison ivy and oak rashes :
- Blend cucumber and make a paste
- Apply them to the rash as a layer
- Let it sit on and penetrate the skin for 20 minutes
- Wash off with cool water
- Repeat the process twice a day
Note: You can safely apply cucumber on any sensitive part of the body. It’s good to blend cucumbers unpeeled.
Watermelon is cooling to the body plus its pulp has phytochemicals (11). This makes watermelon enriched with anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Watermelon pulp or rind can be an effective home remedy for poison ivy rash.
Home remedy for poison ivy blisters using watermelon:
- Using a knife cut out the white portion of the rind
- Blend them well and make a paste
- Apply the moist paste on your rashes
- Let it cool down your rashes and ease your irritation
9. Aloe Vera
From sunburn to dandruff; Aloe Vera heals it all. It is a popular ingredient in health care industry because of its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Aloe Vera gel can work wonders for poison ivy rash as well. It can bring immediate relief to the irritation and reduce the inflammations.
Aloe vera natural cure to soothe poison ivy rashes:
- Slit open the leaf and extract the gel using a spoon
- Apply the gel to your rashes
- Leave it on the affected area so long it comforts you
- Repeat the process thrice a day
Note: You can chill the gel keeping it in a refrigerator for some time.
Goldenseal or oregano root is a great home remedy for all sorts of digestive disorders and flu. Its chemical component berberine is anti-inflammatory and can effectively bring down poison ivy rashes and blisters. (12)
How to use goldenseal for poison ivy rashes:
- Boil a tbsp. Of goldenseal powder for 10 minutes
- Remove the goldenseal tincture from the heat and let it cool down
- Soak cotton swab with the tincture and apply it onto the rashes
- Keep it on the affected skin for 20 minutes
- Repeat the process twice daily
11. Witch Hazel
Witch hazel is a time-tested medicinal plant full of antioxidants and astringent. It can effectively treat skin problems like; acne, sores, blisters and even skin cancer. Today you can buy witch hazel extract in pharmacy.
A topical use of witch hazel extract can help you soothe poison ivy rashes and reduce inflammations. Follow the recommendation on the label. (13)
12. Himalayan Salt
The aesthetic looking pink Himalayan sea salt is more than what meets the eye. It has an extensive list of therapeutic benefits. There are over 84 minerals along with calcium, potassium, iron, and magnesium (14). For centuries people have used it for different home remedy. The antihistaminic and sulfur nature of Himalayan salt make it a potent remedy for poison ivy rash.
Process 1: Himalayan Salt Spray
- Himalayan salt 1 teaspoon
- Cold water
- Spray bottle
- Add the salt to the water and mix them well
- Pour the solution into a spray bottle
- Spray the solution on your rashes
- Allow it to air dry on your affected skin
- Repeat the process several times a day
Process 2: Himalayan Salt Bath
- Himalayan salt 1-2 cup
- Warm water
- Mix the salt to your warm bath water
- saturate yourself fully with the solution
- Let it stay on your body for 15 minutes
- Gently tap dry with a towel
- Repeat this soothing process every night before you hit the bed
13. Epsom Salt
Clinical research suggests that epsom salt may provide temporary relief from the itchiness and swelling of poison ivy rashes. A epsom salt bath can drain out the moisture locked inside the poison ivy rashes and quicken the healing process. 
How to use epsom salt for poison ivy rashes:
Dissolve 2 cups of epsom salt on your bathtub water. Soak in the solution for 12-15 minutes to soothe the itching and rashes.
Tips to Avoid Poison Ivy and Oak Rash
Recognize the notorious plants: it is your first precaution. Detect and avoid the toxin plants to be out of contamination with urushiol. You can identify the plants with their clusters of three hairy leaflets with smooth edges. These can be either shrub or vine based on where they grow. According to the season, they can vary in their color as well.
Wear protective clothes: you may have to pay price for ‘exposing your skin’ in your own backyard. Wear long and covering clothes to shield yourself from contacting with the toxin plants. Make sure to wear gloves when you are working in the garden.
Wash, wash and wash: every time you have a leisurely walk in your garden; make sure to wash upon return. Rinse your clothes and gardening tools. The creepy toxin can stick to your pets’ fur as well. Give her a shower regularly.
Get rid of poison ivy and oak from your garden: never even think of burning the plants. The smoke can cause serious problems in lungs. Call professionals to remove the treacherous plants from your garden.
When to Visit a Doctor
If the home remedies don’t improve the condition of the rashes and itch you should visit a doctor immediately. Following conditions may need you to make a doctor’s appointment:
- Poison ivy rashes have spread a large area of the skin
- The condition of the itch and rashes is severe
- Swelling all over the body
- Troubled breathing due to inhalation of poison ivy smoke
- Poison ivy blisters are leaking fluids
- You got rashes on the eyes, genitals and face area
- Your skin continues to swell
- High fever
In order to avoid the menacing rashes and allergic reactions to poison and ivy, the good rule of thumb is to recognize the plants and to avoid them.
In case you are already suffering an allergic reaction due to the toxin, the above-discussed home remedies may come to your rescue.