So, you did your best to avoid the itch, but it still got you? Never fear -- here are some simple home remedies to treat the rash if it does occur. Many include common items you can find in your kitchen. (While these remedies often refer to poison ivy, the steps are generally appropriate for poison oak and poison sumac as well.)
Home Remedies from the Kitchen
for Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac
Cool off. If the itch has already begun, a cool bath or shower may help ease the itch. Placing ice-cold compresses on the rash for a few minutes every hour may also provide relief.
Baking soda. Concoct a paste of baking soda and water, and spread it on the affected area. Freshen the application every two hours for a total of 3 applications each day. Before going to bed, pour a cup of baking soda into a lukewarm bath and take a soak.
Coffee. If you have any leftover (cold) coffee in your cup, pouring it on a poison ivy rash may be a good way to get rid of the coffee and the rash. Appalachian folk medicine followers believe in washing the affected area with a cup of cold black coffee. Coffee beans contain chlorogenic acid, an anti-inflammatory. This coffee cure hasn't been proved, as there haven't been any studies done on it.
Vinegar. Be it from plant, insect, or allergic reaction, itches of all sorts are tamed by a simple vinegar rinse. First, wash the affected area with soap and lukewarm water, then rinse. Apply vinegar with a cotton ball, rub gently, and rinse.
Soap and water. Waste no time in getting the poisonous plant victim in contact with water -- urushiol is water soluble so use lots and lots of water when you rinse. Rinse before using soap; this will reduce the risk of spreading the oil. And hurry! You have only 10 minutes or so before the oil will start to penetrate your skin. Air-dry the skin. Any towels used for cleaning should be washed immediately in hot water and detergent -- the oil can linger on towels to "get you" again.
Aloe vera. According to the folk medicine taught by Seventh Day Adventists, aloe vera sap helps treat poison ivy rash through its anti-inflammatory constituents. Break off a leaf and apply the sap to the affected area. Allow to dry and gently wash off. Reapply every two hours.
Soak in oats. Bathing in lukewarm water mixed with oatmeal or baking soda may help dry oozing blisters and soothe irritated skin.
Looking for more relief? Even more common home remedies, along with information about which poison ivy myths are true and which are false, can be found in the next section.
For more information about allergies and skin ailments and how to treat them, try the following links:
- To see all of our home remedies and the conditions they treat, go to our main Home Remedies page.
- To see our home remedies for food poisoning, go to our Home Remedies for Food Poisoning page.
- If you want to learn more about allergies, try the How Allergies Work page.
- Dealing with a more heated skin situation? Read our Home Remedies for Sunburn article.
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