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Oh no! You can't stop scratching, and the itchiness is driving you mad. You just wanted to enjoy a day outside, but now you've got poison ivy. Feeling like there's nothing that's going to make this feel better, right?
There are many different at-home, all-natural remedies that can provide soothing relief to the dreaded poison ivy.
To start, let's take a look at how you can avoid getting poison ivy in the first place. Then, we'll explore how to wash and treat your poison ivy with some at-home remedies.
How Can You Avoid Poison Ivy?
While you might think that there is no way to avoid poison ivy altogether, there are a few tips and tricks you can try to significantly reduce your chances of developing a rash.
The first (and most obvious) way to prevent poison ivy is to avoid the plant. It is a good idea to acquaint yourself with how the plant looks. There are many different online resources that you can reference. If you need to, save a picture on your phone. Then, when you're outside, and you think you've spotted poison ivy, pull out your phone and use the image you downloaded to verify if it's poison ivy.
Another tip to avoid the plants is to stay on cleared pathways. If you are hiking or exploring in a nature preserve, remain on the track. You will be less likely to brush up against the plant if you are walking on a cleared pathway. When camping, look for cleared spots without brush, if possible.
And, if you choose to take your furry friend with you, don't let them go romping through the woods. You can keep your pets on a leash to make sure they stay on the cleared path as well. This will lower the chance that they brush up against the plant and then transfer poison ivy to you.
Wear protective clothing when you are outside and going to be in brush-covered areas. Opt for clothing such as:
- Long sleeves
- Tall socks
- Hiking boots
- Long pants
You can also wear a scarf or neck covering. If the plant can't come into contact with your skin, your chances of getting poison ivy are much lower.
If you spot poison ivy in your yard or garden, you should remove or kill it immediately.
One option is to pull the plant out. If you decide to pull it out, make sure that you are wearing gloves. After you pull the plant, make sure to wash the gloves and your hands.
Another option to kill the plant is to use an herbicide. This might be an easier way to tame and kill the plant if it is large.
If you think you've come into contact with poison ivy, you need to wash the potentially infected area immediately. Try to clean the contaminated area within 30 minutes of suspected contact.
This same rule applies to pets as well. If you suspect your pet came into contact with the plant, wash their fur immediately. Make sure you are covered entirely and wearing gloves while bathing them. This will prevent the contamination from spreading to your skin.
Just remember this: the sooner you wash up, the better. Washing – no matter how long after contact – may significantly reduce the severity of the rash.
Also, make sure to clean any potentially contaminated objects. If you think one of your garden tools (or maybe even your shoes) came into contact with the plant, wash them! The contamination from the plant can remain active for years if you don't clean it off properly. If you don't clean contaminated objects, you risk contracting (or redeveloping) poison ivy at a later point in time.
What to Do Immediately After Touching Poison Ivy
If you accidentally touched a poison ivy plant, you need to immediately wash the area that came into contact with the plant. You can use a mild soap and cold water – you don't need any fancy detergents.
Keep in mind that you don't need to scrub aggressively. If you scrub too hard, you risk creating tiny abrasions in your skin that can make the infection worse.
After you wash the area, you can use cotton pads soaked in rubbing alcohol to remove any remaining oils on the contamination site. Ideally, this should be done within the first 10 minutes of exposure.
If you plan to go on a hike, take some alcohol wipes with you in the case that you are exposed and not able to immediately wash the area with soap and water.
You should also throw your contaminated clothes into the washing machine and clean them immediately. Do not let them pile up on the floor or you could contaminate any rugs or flooring that they touch.
All-Natural Poison Ivy Home Remedies
Unfortunately, even if you've followed all of the recommendations, you might still end up with an itchy rash. There are several, poison ivy home remedies that you can easily use to alleviate the symptoms of the allergic reaction.
Try mixing up a baking soda paste. Simply mix a bit of baking soda with some water and apply it to the affected area. You could also try taking a baking soda bath. Fill up a tub with warm water and dissolve 1/2 cup baking soda. Don't soak too long because the skin will become soft and possibly more irritated.
You could also try using witch hazel. This at-home, all-natural medicine is an astringent that will help alleviate the itching. While this might not speed the healing process, it can offer some welcome relief.
Aloe vera is another excellent all-natural, at-home remedy for poison ivy. If you've ever had a sunburn, you know that aloe vera is a very soothing gel that helps to calm the most irritated skin. Aloe can help relieve itching. It also contains all-natural compounds that can help speed up the healing process. Look for organic aloe vera gel so you don't end up using potentially irritating fragrances and artificial dyes.
You could also try applying tea tree oil to relieve the itching. Tea tree oil is naturally anti-inflammatory. Applying tea tree oil can soothe the skin. It will also help to reduce redness and swelling.
Apple cider vinegar may also be able to act as an astringent and remove the allergy-inducing oils. Try soaking a cotton ball in a bit of apple cider vinegar and apply it to the rash. You can repeat this method three to four times per day. This may help relieve the itching.
We would advise against using this method if you develop open blisters. Because apple cider vinegar is acidic, it can irritate opened blister wounds.
Should You Ever Pop Poison Ivy Blisters?
Some allergic reactions may lead to blisters. Generally, you should leave the blisters alone. Scratching or popping the blisters can lead to infection. If you scratch or pop the blister with your fingers, you may introduce bacteria into the wound.
Leaving blisters alone is the best option. Your body forms blisters to protect the skin below. When you remove this protective layer, you open the wounds up to infection.
If a blister opens, leave it alone! Try covering it loosely with gauze. Removing the skin will leave the raw wound underneath exposed to the elements.
If you find that the blister is filling with liquid, you can use a small pin to drain the blister. But again – the key here is to leave the top layer of skin intact.
If you think poison ivy is bad, imagine what poison ivy plus infected wounds feel like. Do yourself a favor and leave it alone!
Poison Ivy Itch Relief
The most aggravating part of a poison ivy rash is the constant itching that comes with it. The good news is that there are a variety of things you can do to help relieve the itch.
Try applying cold compresses to the area. Soak a clean washcloth in cold water and apply it to the area for 10 to 15 minutes at a time.
You can also consider taking antihistamine pills. These pills can help lessen the symptoms of the allergic reaction.
Calamine lotion is also an excellent option for helping to relieve the itch. It soothes irritated skin. However, dermatologists do not generally recommend that you apply a topical antihistamine. These types of creams may make the reaction worse and prolong the healing period.
Or you can try taking short baths. Make sure that the temperature of the water is lukewarm or cool. Hot water will irritate the rash more. If you'd like, try adding some colloidal oatmeal to reduce skin inflammation.
Poison ivy isn't always preventable. But there are some specific preventative measures that you can take to help avoid or lessen the reaction.
- Stay on the path
- Dress in long layers
- Wash immediately if you've come in contact
If you do have an allergic reaction, you don't need expensive over-the-counter medications. Instead, there are plenty of all-natural, at-home remedies that you can use to soothe the itching and irritation. If the reaction continues to get worse, see a doctor immediately. If blisters develop, leave them alone. They are your body's defense mechanism.
Have you ever dealt with poison ivy? Share your feel-better-ASAP solutions down below!