You spent a glorious day in the park, hiking with friends, or walking your dog and now you feel itchy and notice splotchy red bumps. Poison ivy, or poison oak or poison sumac, has claimed yet another victim. All three of those plants contain urushiol, an oily, allergy-inducing sap that exists in every part of the plant, including the leaves, stem, fruit, and root.
How Does Poison Ivy Rash Develop?
Bumps, blotches, and a linear streak of swelling or blisters typically indicates a poison ivy rash. It’s also possible for the rash to be weepy, crusty, and painfully itchy. The rash may not appear right away, as it can take four to 96 hours to show up. That said, a rash can take up to two weeks to appear if it’s your first time being exposed to poison ivy. The reason for this is because the immune system has to develop an allergic reaction first. If the body has never encountered it, the rash will take some time to appear.
Although the best way to deal with poison ivy is to completely avoid it, that isn’t always possible. Even if you wear clothing that protects every inch of your skin, you can still rub your clothes that have brushed up against it and develop a rash that way. It spreads easily, even from pets to humans, and you can see a rash from the original point of contact to the places that you touch. If you do end up with that characteristic poison ivy rash, experiment with the following home remedies to soothe your skin and accelerate the healing process. Before you experiment with them, though, make sure to clean the affected areas and wash clothing and pets with detergent or soap.
This succulent plan houses a sticky gel when you break it open. This gel is a common treatment for minor burns, sunburn, and other skin rashes, including poison ivy. Aloe exhibits cooling and anti-inflammatory properties that may relieve the itchiness that accompanies the rash. Unfortunately, several studies found that aloe vera does not accelerate the healing process, but it does provide temporary relief from burning and itching.
Baking soda is another common home remedy for relieving itchiness, especially if it accompanies a poison ivy rash. Research notes that you can also use baking soda to soothe irritated skin from dermatitis, bee stings, and other rashes. There are two ways to use baking soda to help relieve poison ivy rash. The first way is to add about one cup of baking soda to a lukewarm or cool bath and soak in it for about 20 minutes. The second way is to mix baking soda with water to form a paste that resembles toothpaste. Apply that paste directly to the rash.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a common pantry staple that has uses in many culinary applications. Research also shows that it may have a place in home remedies because of the health properties it exhibits. Apple cider vinegar has antibacterial properties that may help reduce the risk of skin infections that result from scratching. Because apple cider vinegar is acidic, be careful when experimenting with it, especially if the poison ivy rash contains blisters. Dilute the vinegar with a small amount of water and dab a cotton ball into the solution. Dab it onto a small patch of the rash and if it doesn’t irritate the skin and stops the itch, it may be a viable remedy.
For anyone with itchy skin or rash, a great option to soothe the skin is to soak in a bath with colloidal oatmeal for 10 minutes. Colloidal oatmeal is made from finely ground oats and, unlike traditional oats, it doesn’t sink to the bottom of the bath. Instead, colloidal oatmeal easily disperses throughout the water to coat the skin and relieve the itch. You can typically find colloidal oatmeal at drugstores.
Made from the leaves and bark of the Hamamelis virginiana plant, witch hazel contains tannins that work to fight infection and reduce swelling. You can pour witch hazel in a small bowl, dip a cotton ball in the liquid, and then dab the cotton ball on the affected areas. It can be beneficial to place the witch hazel in the refrigerator beforehand for an added cooling effect.
Rubbing alcohol can effectively remove urushiol from the skin. Although this may not relieve itchy skin or other symptoms, it can help reduce the spread if you use it soon after exposure to poison ivy. Apply the rubbing alcohol to the affected area and then rinse thoroughly with water. You can also do the same thing to remove urushiol from your shoes.