7 Ways to Treat Poison Ivy

Poison ivy is sometimes the downside to a great hike and time outdoors, but don't let it stop you! Treat poison ivy with the most unlikely remedies involving dishwashing liquid, pepto rub, and more. 

Bruce and Jeanne Lubin
2-minute read

1. Dishwashing Liquid

Curing a poison ivy rash can be as easy (and cheap) as some dishwashing liquid! Its grease-fighting ingredients are also perfect for removing urushiol, the chemical in poison ivy that causes so much itching. Wash the rash with dishwashing liquid and water as soon as possible after contact with poison ivy, and it will help prevent the itch.

2. Oatmeal Bath

Oatmeal is a common ingredient in scrubs and body washes—and for good reason! It’s loaded with anti-inflammatory powers thanks to two chemicals, avenanthramides and phenols, which make it a wonderful treatment for all sorts of skin conditions, including acne, eczema, sunburn, and yes, poisonous-plant rashes. Make your own oatmeal bath at home with one cup of uncooked oats: Finely grind the oats in a blender and pour into a tub filled with warm water. The rashy patient should sit in the tub for 15 minutes for a skin-calming soak.

3. Alcohol

As soon as you notice there’s been contact with poison ivy, coat the area with rubbing alcohol. It’s especially handy if there’s no place to wash up immediately (like when you’re camping), and it will eliminate the plant’s itch-inducing urushiol. Take a bottle with you on hikes or anytime you journey into potential ivy-dwelling territory. If you don’t have rubbing alcohol, anything containing alcohol will do—and yes, that includes beverages.

4. DIY Solution

Try this cooling compress for a burning, itchy rash: Combine a third of a cup of vinegar and one cup of water and pop it in the fridge. For a quick cool down, soak a soft cloth or small towel in the solution and hold it against the skin.

5. Not Just for Baby’s Bum

Whether it’s poison ivy, oak, or sumac, diaper rash cream can come to the rescue! Its cream contains zinc oxide, which offers soothing relief and tames that irksome itch.

6. Pepto Rub

Although normally used for digestive troubles, Milk of Magnesia and Pepto-Bismol are great for skin rashes too, including those from poisonous plants. Soak a cotton ball in the liquid and apply to the rash: The alkaline properties in the stomach meds cool the inflamed skin and help control the itch.

7. Salt Bath

To help relieve the itching of a rash caused by poison ivy, soak the affected area in a strong salt bath. Make sure the water is warm to fully get the itch out.

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About the Author

Bruce and Jeanne Lubin

Bruce Lubin and Jeanne Bossolina-Lubin are the proud parents of three boys and more than a dozen books. After saving thousands per year using everyday tips and simple lifehacks, they started their own business in the hopes of sharing their knowledge with others. They have been known to go into their friends' refrigerators to turn their eggs upside down so that they last longer.