Experienced campers and hikers will be familiar with the unpleasant itching caused by contact with poison ivy, the innocent-looking North American plant with a truly venomous bite. Indeed, many camping or hiking trips have been cut disappointingly short because a member of the team was afflicted with contact dermatitis – a condition of the skin caused by the organic allergen urushiol contained in poison ivy, which produces an extremely itchy rash that can make outdoor excursions a misery for those whom are allergic or semi-allergic to it.
While conventional treatment for poison ivy rashes exist, usually in cream format, these substances are almost never natural and many health-minded individuals prefer to choose treatments that are in greater accord with nature. So, let’s take a look at some of those natural treatments now. Please note that the following treatments can also be used for poison oak and poison sumac rashes.
The Best Natural Remedies for Poison Ivy Rashes
Firstly, it should be noted that urushiol does not absorb into the skin immediately. If you come into contact with poison ivy and happen to have some rubbing alcohol on you, you can actually wash the affected area with it to prevent an allergic reaction in the first place. However, the majority who weren’t prepared for contact and are now suffering the consequences might consider one of the following remedies:
- Baking soda – A paste comprised of baking soda and water can do wonders for a poison ivy rash. Freshen the application every 2 hours for up to 3 applications per day. You could even take a baking soda bath before retiring to bed.
- White vinegar – The efficacy of standard white vinegar to ease itches has been known for centuries. Simply apply it to a cotton ball and gently rub in onto the affected area several times a day.
- Aloe vera – That aloe vera is often a central ingredient in anti-itching creams (natural and pharmaceutical) should tell you all you need to know about its anti-inflammatory properties. Applying some natural creams containing aloe vera onto the poison ivy rash will ease its aggressiveness in no time.
- Oatmeal – It may sound a little eccentric, but an oatmeal bath works wonders for blistered or irritated skin. This is because oatmeal works as a skin protectant.
- Coffee – Because coffee beans contain a powerful anti-inflammatory called chlorogenic acid, a good-quality coffee can soothe a poison ivy rash. Please note, however, that unlike the treatments listed above, few studies have been done on coffee and its ability to treat this condition. Therefore, we encourage you to try coffee as a last resort, or if it’s the only ingredient available to you from our list.
The Importance of Preparation
Clearly, most home remedies for poison ivy involve ingredients that are easily found around the house, or which are inexpensive to buy. Therefore, if you intend to camp in or hike through an area that contains poison ivy, oak, or sumac, it is a great idea to carry at least one of the above ingredients in your bag, as well as the aforementioned rubbing alcohol to prevent an allergic reaction from the outset. If you prepare in advance for possible contact with these plants, then you reduce the risk of having an adventure ruined because of the persistent and unbearable itching it causes.