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From Rash to Relief: Poison Ivy Prevention and Treatment

By Caitlin Potere  •   3 minute read

From Rash to Relief: Poison Ivy Prevention and Treatment
Tips for Prevention
  • Recognize: Learn what poison ivy looks like and practice identifying it. Save photos to a phone or print out a picture to bring on hikes.  Poison ivy is a vining plant that usually spreads along the ground, but it can also climb trees with thick vines.  The leaves are usually green but can also turn red and orange as temperatures drop in the fall.  In the early spring, sometimes only the brown vines are visible and can still cause rash upon contact.

Figure 1: green poison ivy leaves

Figure 2: Reddish-brown poison ivy leaves

Figure 3: Red poison ivy leaves vining up a tree

  • Understand: Oils on the surface of the plant cause rashes after skin contact and can also spread to clothes, shoes, and tools. Oils can sit for months and cause rashes later.  It’s also common for dogs to run through poison ivy and get the oil on their fur.
  • Avoid: Avoid areas with poison ivy or wear tall, washable boots (recommend Muck Boot Foragers) and long pants tucked into boots.
  • Wash: Use Tecnu Cleanser, Tecnu Scrub, or Dawn Dish Soap to wash away oils after known or suspected exposure. Immediately wash any clothes you suspect may have been exposed.  If your dog was with you, give it a bath.
  • Remediate: If possible, carefully remove any poison ivy you find growing on your property or hire a company to remove it. Never burn poison ivy, as the oils travel on the smoke and can cause severe respiratory distress and even death if inhaled.


Rash Prevention & Treatment

Homeopathic Treatment: Rhus Tox pellets are used orally for poison ivy rash.  30C potency taken 1 to 6 times daily is a typical dosage.  Take as needed – if the symptoms flare, take a dose.  200C or 1M potency can be used for more severe cases.  A dose is 3-5 pellets dissolved under the tongue.  Take on a clean palate, at least 15 minutes away from food or drink (other than water).  Alternatively, you can use Hyland’s Poison Ivy and Poison Oak Relief tablets.  This product contains Rhus Tox along with two other homeopathic remedies that target common symptoms of poison ivy rash.

Topical Creams and Sprays: Castle Remedies carries several natural options for topical relief.  Quantum’s Itch Nix Gel contains a combination of herbal extracts, essential oils, and B vitamins in a soothing aloe vera base.  Tecnu Rash Relief Spray combines the antihistamine diphenhydramine with herbal extracts of plantain, grindelia, tea tree oil and white thyme oil.  Herb Pharm’s Soothing Oak and Ivy Spray contains menthol with herbal extracts of sassafras and grindelia.  Some people find relief with topically applied Lavender essential oil – just make sure it’s diluted properly.  You can add 15 - 20 drops of Lavender oil to ¼ cup aloe vera gel for a nice DIY topical.

Oil Removal:  It’s important to wash away poison ivy oils thoroughly and quickly.  Castle Remedies carries two Tecnu products for this purpose.  Tecnu Outdoor Skin Cleanser is a gentle, milky non-foaming cleanser that can be used on skin, tools, pets, clothes, and shoes.  Tecnu Extreme Poison Ivy & Oak Scrub is a bit heavier duty and can be used to exfoliate and scrub oils off the skin.  We highly recommend having these products on hand.  If you must go purchase them after exposure, it’s probably too late to prevent a rash.

Know When To Get Help: Seek immediate medical attention if (1) the rash covers a large area of the body, (2) if the rash is affecting eyes, ears, nose, throat, mucus membranes, or genitals, (3) if poison ivy smoke has been inhaled, (4) if the rash is not improving.

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