February 20, 2020

Poison Ivy Treatment – What Works And What Does Not


Poison ivy treatment depends on the appearance and degree of the allergic symptoms. Poison Ivy, scientific name Toxicodendron radicans, is an allergen plant found in the United States of America. It grows in vine form; has a slender red stem, green, shiny leaves and, sometimes, green berries. All its parts contain urushiol; a highly poisonous resin/ oil that cause allergic reactions when it comes into contact with the human body. The poison may remain in the equipment, clothes and shoes for a long time, and burning (highly not recommended) elicits fumes that can cause the same allergic reaction as the tangible parts of the plant, to people who react to it. Symptoms of Poison Ivy reaction include red streaks/ patches on the skin, hives, blisters and extreme itchiness.

poison ivy treatment

Poison Ivy treatment: What works

Preventing further reaction

Not everyone gets an allergic reaction to poison ivy’s direct contact. However, those who do must, in an attempt to minimize the allergic reaction, clean the affected area thoroughly; with water and soap. Immediate washing erases much of the urushiol oil, hence reduces the quantities absorbed by the skin. A person may, also, dab rubbing alcohol on the affected area to prevent further absorption of the resin by the skin. Cold water, on the affected area, closes the skin pores, in effect minimizing absorption of urushiol by the skin.

Soothing the skin and managing symptoms

Managing the symptoms is as good a poison ivy treatment as preventing further spread of allergy or taking drugs. Poison ivy’s red skin streaks, extreme itching, hives and blisters cause great discomfort. However, in extreme reactions, the swelling of the face, throat, eyes, and other parts can be fatal. To reduce blister formation, as well as itching, a person can apply hydrocortisone cream and Calamine lotion. Cold coffee and chamomile tea dabs as well as baking soda, oatmeal, Aluminium acetate and acorn broth baths sooth the skin. Apple cider vinegar, chilled fruits, butter and yoghurt (for those people who do not have dairy products’ allergy) can be applied on the affected area to dry the blisters.


As a poison ivy treatment, injections and oral drugs may be recommended to patients who have extensive symptoms. Steroids and non-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed to boost the body’s immunity as well as induce a rest mode for the body; reducing the itchiness and discomfort. Physiologically speaking, allergies are an adverse reaction against foreign materials, which the body reacts by producing high levels of histamines to fight off those allergens or minimize their effects. Oral antihistamines may thus be administered to reduce poison ivy’s allergy symptoms.

Poison ivy treatment: Methods that do not work

Antihistamines on the skin

Whereas orally-ingested antihistamines go a long way in curbing the symptoms, they have an opposite effect if applied directly on the affected area. Direct application on the skin not only causes more inflammation, but also causes an infection, which complicates healing. Antihistamines are an excellent poison ivy treatment that works inside the body; triggering the brain to reduce the production of histamines (allergen reactors).

Warm/ hot baths, steaming and hot temperatures

Contrary to popular belief, which poses warm or hot water as a remedy for poison ivy, hot or warm water opens up the skin’s pores, thereby allowing more penetration of urushiol oils into the skin. Steam baths and hot temperatures have the same effects on the skin as hot baths, and in addition to increased absorption of urushiol by the skin, they increase itchiness, rash, blistering and discomfort. Cold water, cold cloths, fruit rinds and cold baths have a much positive effect.

Popping open blisters or scratching the rash raw

Opening wounds has always been assumed to be a poison ivy treatment as well as a treatment for other skin conditions. The assumption is that it dries the wounds, which heals them fast. However, it is a wrong choice for treating poison ivy as it increases the risk of infection and delays healing. Contrary to scrubbing the rash and popping open the blisters, covering them keeps them from infections so that they can heal on their own, within a short time; depending on the extent of the allergy.


Poison ivy, from the urushiol oil of Poison Ivy plant, causes blisters, hives, itchiness and red marks on the skin it comes into contact. Poison Ivy treatment options that work include immediate and thorough cleaning of the affected areas, rubbing alcohol, cold water and ointments/ creams, which soothe the skin and draw water from blisters. Treatment options that do not work, some of which worsen the symptoms, include hot temperatures and hot water baths, opening the blister and applying antihistamine cream.

Poison Ivy Treatment

About VJacques

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Vincent L. Jacques is a Professional Engineer in the Environmental Engineering Field, an entrepreneur, business owner, writer, photographer, angler, gardener, wine connoisseur, investor, philatelist, domainer, web-site developer, collector, diver, leader, husband and dad. Vincent has started and sold several businesses over the years and had presence on the internet as early as 1995, with Kenyon Environmental Inc., Kinetic Capital Management and AvoidLines.

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