If you’ve ever gone hiking or camping, you’ve probably heard the warning, “leaves of three, let them be.” But what if you have an accidental brush with poison ivy? A chemical in the sap of the plant called urushiol rubs off on the skin. It’s a delayed reaction—12–72 hours later, itching, redness, bumps, and even blistering begin to appear, and last for up to three weeks.
There are many ways to treat poison ivy naturally. “An Epsom salt or sea salt bath is very effective, as well as aloe vera,” says John Salerno, MD, director of The Salerno Center in New York City.
Poison ivy causes a histamine reaction in the body, so natural antihistamines taken internally can also help. “I encourage my patients to take an oral treatment which contains nettle and quercetin. These are strong antihistamines and very effective.” Specially formulated homeopathic remedies may also ease symptoms.
How to stop the itching and swelling from a case of poison ivy? Aloe vera gel is a tried-and-tested remedy for sunburn and other types of skin irritation, including itching from insect bites and rashes from poison ivy. Gently washing irritated skin with chamomile tea, brewed and then cooled, is another soothing treatment. “Aloe vera has natural anti-inflammatory properties, as does tea tree oil,” says Salerno. “Both are very effective for poison ivy relief. Apple cider vinegar, comfrey liquid extract, and burdock root liquid extract applied via compress are great for itch relief,” he adds.
Ann Nix is the editor of Amazing Wellness magazine.
GO JUMP IN A LAKE
If you come in contact with poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac (all of which are coated in an oily resin containing the poison urushiol), find a lake, garden hose, or shower—fast. Dermatologists recommend rinsing your skin right away with lukewarm water. Additionally, wash all of the clothes you were wearing when you came in contact with the plant, and anything the plant may have touched or you may have touched with warm, soapy water. The oil can remain active for months on surfaces.
MEGAFOODQuercetin Strength is formulated with natural antihistamines, including quercetin, nettle, and vitamin C, derived from whole-food sources.
Soothe itchy, irritated, flaky skin and rashes, including poison ivy and oak, with ALL TERRAINDitch the Itch Bar. Made with all-natural ingredients, including tea tree oil, neem oil, and oat extract, the bar comes in biodegradable packaging.
HYLAND’SPOISON IVY/OAK is a homeopathic formula that works to soothe the pain, itching, and swelling by stimulating the body’s own healing response.