Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Information Center

Natural Remedies

Signs of an Emergency
About 15 percent of the 120 million Americans who are allergic to poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac are so highly sensitive that they break out in a rash and begin to swell in 4 to 12 hours instead of the normal 24 to 48. Their eyes may swell shut and blisters may erupt on their skin. This is one of the few true emergencies in dermatolgy says William L. Epstein, MD. Get to a hosipital as soon as possible. A shot of corticosteroids will bring the swelling down.

Tea Tree oil

Tee Tree oil helps a lot! I have had a lot of wonderful results to prevent poison ivy, etc with Natural Vitamin C. It has done wonders for me!
--(Lorals2@NOSPAMaol.com) submitted June/26/1999
Editor note: I have found a site that lists other natural products they claim help cure Poison Ivy

I noticed one of responses mentioned "tea tree oil." Another name for the "tea tree" is "melaleuca tree," and I have it on good report that melaleuca oil works wonders on poison oak rash, with almost instant itch relief, and close to overnight disappearance of the rash. There is a company by that name, that distributes the oil, along with other products, and a representative can be found in most local phone books.
--Victor Rutherford (rutherforv@NOSPAMaol.com) submitted Nov/4/1999

I have it right now on my legs, and a little on arms and face. My mom suggested tea tree oil to help relieve the itching and lo and behold it works. On the label of the product we have (I don't have the bottle right here in front of me) it says to the effect of, "relieves itching caused by mosquitos, scratches, ..." but it doesn't list poison oak on there. It really seems to work though so try it and if anyone else finds it useful let me know.
--Joel (joel_the_man@NOSPAMhotmail.com) submitted Jun/9/2000

I have poison ivy for the first time and I hope it is the last. I tried the hydro-cortisone cream and calamine, nothing was working. I found your web-site and tried the Tea Tree Oil. I started putting it on yesterday afternoon. It helped a little at first, I just kept putting it on every 2 hours. This morning, I feel like a whole new person. The itch has gone down to almost nothing. I will keept putting it on all day. It doesn't smell that great, but just keep putting it on, it really works.
-- Rebecca Caporusso (bassalec02@NOSPAMatt.net) submitted 8/May/2001

I experienced three bouts with poison ivy after moving to a wooded area. Each case was worse than the one before. My doctor put me on a steriod, which helped a little, but it didn't dry up the rash. As soon as I went off of the steroid, the rash came back with a vengeance. I had the rash all over my arms, legs, stomach and neck. I tried every over-the-counter remedy I could get my hands on and nothing kicked it. I finally tried Tea Tree oil that a friend had given me and it was amazing! I diluted it with just a little bit of water and put it directly on the rash with a cotton ball. The relief was instant!!! The swelling went down overnight and the rash was gone within days. I haven't had any problems since. Tea Tree oil is a sure cure and is available where health food and aromatherapy oils are sold.
--"C. Miller" (no email provided) submitted 23/Aug/2002

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Jewelweed/Aloe/Comphry Tea

I found this a great help and easy to make. Mix 1/4 part clean water, 1/4 part aloe stems or juice, 1/2 part jewelweed stems and leaves. Mix all in blender. Add one bag of comphry tea per quart and bring to a slow boil. Strain out liquid and put in spray bottle. can easily be sprayed on poison ivy rash as needed. this helps me alot and makes the rash go away quicker with less irritation.
--(Michael - kewl@NOSPAMsuperior.net) submitted Jul/1/1999

The juice obtained from the hollow stems of jewel weed, preferably spring time, applied and allowed to dry, halts the spread and heals the rash within hours. Try it!! (Jewel weed often grows near the poison ivy and was the treatment used by local Indians)
--"Mary or Ron June" (junest@NOSPAMwt.net) submitted 15/Dec/2000

Better than Ivy Dry... Go out to where the poison ivy grows and look around for a wild green plant that is tall with yellow or orange flowers, called Jewel Weed. (You can look it up in a plant book). The stems hold a sticky fluid that, when applied to the skin, will dry out the blisters and rash. I cut off a part of the stem, then split it down the middle with a knife. Takes about three days, I apply after 3 hours or so. I used to use Ivy Dry, but now I find that the Jewel Weed is the only product that has worked for me. I haven't tried any of the home remedies on your web site, but I will, since it's pretty late in the season and hard to find a juicy plant out in the wild. Note: I tried to buy a poison ivy cream from a health food store that had the jewel weed in the ingredients, but it spread the rash instead of helping it.
--"Robin Daiell" (rdaiell@NOSPAMworldnet.att.net) submitted 9/Oct/2002

I also use Jewelweed for Posion Ivy as wells as for stinging nettle. The only thing I would like to add is that jewelweed and touch-me-not to me are the same plant. I am not sure about Jewelweed growing near the posion ivy but I know it grows right next to stinging nettle. When they are together we call them "The beauty and the beast".
--"Chaos" (chaos_1369@NOSPAMhotmail.com) submitted 29/Apr/2003

I was working at a boy scout camp and I had found out that a plant called jewel weed accually helps in the proccess of spreading poison ivy. It also helps in stopping it before it even starts. An example would be when my friend had touched the pionson ivy, he immediently grabbed the jewel weed and spread it over the infected area. It may be hard to find in some areas. I myself prefer some herbs because my personal preference and for what works for me.
--"Sam P." (iceman3520@NOSPAMyahoo.com) submitted 19/May/2003

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Goldenseal Root powder and Aloe Vera Gel

The best remedy for Poison Ivy infection is not to get it in the first place. Since that rarely works for me, here's my second treatment which I have found to be better than anything on the market....... make a paste out of Goldenseal Root powder and Aloe Vera Gel. Rub it onto the infected area. The abrasives of the Golden Seal feels great, as well as its ability to draw out the toxins. The Aloe Vera Gel seems to help in keeping the skin from scaring.
--(erendil@NOSPAMenter.net) submitted Jun/09/1999

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Dry skin cream with jewelweed leaves, aloe vera gel, Vitamin E

Spray poison ivy killer on the leaves that are growing actively, but don't get it on the ground or on any other plants. 2. Pull out the poison ivy plants, but wear rubber gloves. Don't touch any part of the plant with your skin. Don't put them in the compost pile. Don't burn them (I read that someone died from breathing poison ivy smoke--horrors!). Put them in plastic bags and throw in the garbage. 3. Remedy for poison ivy: Blend dry skin cream with jewelweed leaves, aloe vera gel, Vitamin E and Vitamin A. The jewelweed is a wild impatiens that often grows near poison ivy. Native Americans said that the Great Spirit put the remedy next to the problem. This cream works on all kinds of skin problems, including allergic reactions to chemicals.
--(Wendy B G) submitted May/14/1999

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Rat Vein Tea

My 88 year old neighbor told me about Rat Vein Tea to treat poison ivy. It's an old southern rememdy.
Dwayne (DTONLN@NOSPAMaol.com) submitted 7/Jul/2000
Comment: This plant is also called Spotted Wintergreen, Striped Pipsissewa, Rheumatism Root, or Dragon's Tongue. See this site for pictures and information

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Impatiens / Touch-Me-Nots

Nice, informative site. I was curious as to why there is no mention of impatiens/touch-me-nots as a natural remedy for poison ivy. Typically the impatiens grows in the same area, find one, find the other. I was taught that the sap from the impatiens counters the affects of the toxin/oils in the poison ivy. I have seen this in several sources, never had the experience to try it out personally.
--Tom Watson (tomwatson_wenonah@NOSPAMyahoo.com) submitted 8/Nov/2000

I am very allergic to poison Ivy,Oak and sumac. Everytime I use the weedeater where ever the oil touches me it stings like fire. That evening I have the Blisters. About 7 years ago I got posion ivy so bad I tried everything and I had allergic reactions to the over the counter creams and had a cortizone shot nothing helped I was covered from the knees down with solid red blisters. Then a elderly friend of the family told me a cure she used simple and cheap its free . she told me to use touch me nots. Take the stems and flowers and boil them in water. I did and as soon as the mixture cooled I rubbed it on my skin and got instant relief I couldn't believe it but it instantly took the itching away and it only took about three days for it to be gone. You can even boil this mixture and freeze it because some people get poison ivy, oak or sumac in the winter when touch me nots are not growing. When weedeating if i feel it sting my skin I go and break off a piece of the touch me not and rub the juice on my skin and if I do this as soon as the blister comes it works and I don't have to boil it. I hope this works for others as it has worked for me. I am truly grateful for the friend who told me about the touch me nots.
-- Linda (lknapier@tds.net) submitted 19/Nov/2000

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Wild Peach Tea

I have a touch of poison oak and what I use to get rid of it is a plant called Wild Peach. It's kind of hard to describe, but the leaves look just like leaves from a peach tree. You pull of some of the leaves and boil them in water to make a tea. You should use an older pot as the leaves will leave a residue. It will come out with an SOS pad. You should drink the tea and dab the tea on the spots of poison oak that you have. It will taste bitter and very different, but it works! I've tried adding sugar, honey but it doesn't help. If you have it over a large part of your body you can take a tepid bath with it. It will take a couple of days to get rid of the poison oak but it is supposed to help build up an ammunity to it. Wild Peach grows close to if not next to poison oak. Good Luck,
--Ben Dorsett (bdorsett@NOSPAMmlode.com) submitted 05/Jul/2000

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Sweet Fern

Try boiling sweet fern. Rub the juice on the infected area. My grandmothers Indian remedy.
-- Dan Lane (@NOSPAMwebtv.net) Jan/17/2000

I own a small company here in Maine called Sweet Fern of Oxford Maine. I started marketing my Sweet Fern Poison Ivy Cure four years ago around Maine and New Hampshire and now sell my product out of 27 health and specialty food stores. To date over 5,000 packages of my product have been sold with 100% customer satisfaction. Simply boil the dried Sweet Fern Leaves in two cups of water for ten minutes, let cool, strain, and dab the tea on the infected areas. The itching will immediately stop. The oozing will stop within two hours and the rash will dry up in about twenty four hours, simple as that! Sweet Fern was originally used by area Native Americans to cure these types of skin irritations and although Jewel Weed works pretty good Sweet Fern is far more effective and pleasant smelling. Further documentation about Sweet Fern, used as a natural cure for poison ivy, can be found in "American Folk Medicine" by Clarence Meyer and "Earth Magic" by Corinne Martin. We also market Sweet Fern Tea which was also used by area Native Americans to cure dysentary and to prevent diarrhea, but basically it's simply delicious! Visit my site at Sweetfernmaine.com or E-mail us at sfern@megalink.net
--"al pelletier" (sfern@NOSPAMmegalink.net) submitted 21/Jun/2001

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Rubarb

Rubarb it is found in your local gardens. just rub it on the poison ivy 2-3 times daily (it realy takes the itch away) in a couple of days it is gone. just break open the stem rub it on for instant releif ,and very safe.
--kent bergman (iceberg1@NOSPAMlocl.net) submitted 07/Jul/2001

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Aloe Vera

Please add poison ivy treatment suggestion foryour readers.Topical application of Aloe Vera Gel (whole leaf)99.5% Is very effective in healing the rash quickly.Aloe Vera is one of the few substances that is able to penetrate all the layers of the skin and absorbing foreign matter within. Drinking a teaspoon 3x a day is also beneficial as it allows all the benefits of the aloe to be distributed through your bloodstream and thus to the poison ivy rash. R.a.
--"Rob A." (rjahoof@NOSPAMgis.net) submitted 31/Jul/2001

Aloe vera (freshly broken from plant) I was exposed unwittingly to roots in soil early this march. Otherwise Technu would've been applied. I tried everything including: cortisone shot 6mg.s (helped swelling somewhat), Ivy Dry (chemicals made me feel faint), liquid aloe (had adverse reaction perhaps due to preservatives), caladryl (caused same adverse reaction as bottled aloe), Burts pi soap (no noticeable results), cortisone cream (no noticeable results). Fresh aloe from a plant applied after a.m. shower, fresh aloe applied before bed & thru day as needed and a couple of benadryls to make sleep occur is the only cure for me. The little edges of the plant leaves provide a scour to help relief itching, too. Oddly aloe was the least messy to sleep in or have next to clothes. Getting better and much happier.
--"angela" (no email provided) submitted 30/Mar/2002

Poison in the eyes, use aloe plant leaves, skinned to expose the inside, Instant relief when you can't see due to swelling . This is the best thing I ever found after sitting blinded with my eyes swelled shut for 4 days. There is no burning or itching while the leaves are on your eyes ahhhhhhhhhh hhhhh! Bill Martindale
--"downy" (downy@NOSPAMearthlink.net) submitted 17/May/2002

Thanks for the great advice, will try several avenues tomorrow when the sun returns and so does the itching! Caladryl has really helped, and so, oddly, has Banana Boat 33% Aloe Vera Gel, which we keep around for sunburn.
--"Warren Hodges" (nclaw2000@NOSPAMhotmail.com) submitted 9/May/2003

I got poison oak about a week ago. I had no idea what I was doing when I was pulling those weeds. I am glad I am not dead. The rash and itching started the next day. I called the doctor and got a cortisone shot. It did not help. Next two days everything got worse and my left eye also swelled. I got another cortisone shot. It did make some difference. I tried all kind of creams - no help. Finally tried gel from freshly cut Aloe Vera plant. It helped a lot. I suggest cortisone shots, benadryl (to sleep) and Aloe Vera. I have red blotches all over my body but the itching is almost gone in 8 days. At my mothers suggestion, I am also taking herbal syrup called "Safi" (made by Hamdard). It supposedly purifies the blood and is available from Indian/Pakistani stores. The best thing is to not ever go close to these nasty plants.
--"Ali" (no email provided) submitted 21/May/2003

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Honey Suckle

I was told to use honeysuckle leaves as a cure for poison ivy. I was skeptical and I have only been suffering from the itch for a few days. I have tried Tecnu Cala-gel and hylands poison ivy pills and benadryll(generic)pills at night. I've used ivarest and benadryl anti-itch cream. All have worked for a little, while I got the best to be the benadryl anti-itch cream. I still was itching so I came home today and mixed me up a batch of honeysuckle leaves. Honeysuckle recipe for poison ivy cure: about 3 cups of honeysuckle leaves 1 cup of water Put in blender and puree, strain leaves with cheese cloth and save the juice. Apply the juice liberally. This has relieved the itch immensely. I can also feel the skin drying up. I hope to wake up with the rash gone. I already notice a reduction in the rash and the itch has ceased.Try it. It is working so far.
--"cheryl koch" (lil_sis_73086@NOSPAMyahoo.com) submitted 20/May/2002

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Heliconia Farinosa

Just wanted to let you know after 34 years, the one and only thing that I am allergic to, yep, Poison Ivy. I'm happy to have found your site, your myth and fact section is what I needed. I have preached to my tree hugging buddies for years that the only field "in the bush" remedy that truly works is a plant called Plantain-heliconia farinosa. Simply take a hand full of the leaves rub them together semi-hard, squeeze like aloe and rub onto the affected area. Good luck, Thanks for a great web site.
--"Patrick" (evansgroup@NOSPAMmail.com) submitted 28/May/2002

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Fiddlehead Fern

I was just at your web page on poison ivy cures. So far, no one has suggested Fiddlehead ferns. As a youngster I got poison ivy in the worst way. A man (probably Indian) saw my condition one day and brought me fiddlehead ferns. You make a tea from the ferns and when it cools, apply it. It is th e only cure that ever worked for me 100% of the time. Usually it's gone within 2-3 days. (These are the leaves from grown plants. Not the fiddleheads that you eat.) Hans Nicolaisen
--Hans Nicolaisen (hansn@NOSPAMmidcoast.com) submitted 27/Jun/2002

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Manzanita Leaf

Manzanita leaf tea cures poison oak rash. Learned from Pomo Indians back in the '70s (California coast). Also combined Horsetail Herb (equisetum) tea with Manzanita leaf tea to successfully heal the worst case of poison oak on a friend. Crush fresh Manzanita leaves (branch tips) and boil into a thick tea, then apply as hot as can be comfortable and let it air dry. Re-apply a few times per day for a few days. My results are always better than otc remedies. Manzanita leaf is extremely astringent (try a piece sometime, but have a water rinse available to clear the most powerful pucker imaginable!)Also, I was taught to immunize myself from poison oak by ingesting a very small leaf segment annually. I was shown to cut a 1/16" leaf section on my fingernail then gulp it down with saliva. I repeat two more days, same small dose. My only adverse reaction was a slightly itchy anus once, but it always immunizes me for a year. My preferred method is to allow one small eruption on one arm. I control it to prevent spreading while allowing it to enter my system mildly. This effectively immunizes me for the season. I used to see "Immunoak" sold (three small vials of poison oak liquid to ingest one weekly) but seems to have been banned. Perhaps those who are ultra allergic to the stuff have life threatening problems from it. Know your level of tolerance before experimenting! Thanks...
--"Joseph Sickler" (l.l.andrew@NOSPAMworldnet.att.net) submitted 10/Aug/2002

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Polk Salad Root

My son and I have both suffered from hypersensitivity to poison ivy/oak throughout the courses of our lives. My stepfather went to a health products store and was told to try Felz Naptha Laundry Soap on the affected areas and sent some to us. You thoroughly wash all affected areas on your body for three minutes with the soap. You then let it dry for three minutes and rinse it off thoroughly in hot water for three minutes. This helps so much with the itching and also helps the rash dry up. You then follow it with calamine, caladryl, rhuligel, etc. it works great! Another friend of mine said to try polk salad root. You cut the root open and rub it all over the affected areas. It stings so bad you can hardly stand it because it draws the oils out after it is rubbed on. Once the stinging stops (usually 3 to 5 minutes), you rinse it off with cold water. Honestly, I prefer the Felz Naptha Laundry Soap over this one, but the Polk Salad Root does work better.
--"Hogue, Denise" (DHogue@NOSPAMcasham.com) submitted 23/Sep/2002

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Flaxseed Oil

I, too, am constantly getting poison ivy rashes from my cat. So far this season, I'm having my third bout with it. As usual, it is winning. I've become a "researcher" and have tried several of the remedies on this site. They're all okay, but nothing really lasts long enough. Anyway, I thought I'd add another "remedy" that I've found, which is flaxseed oil. I take gel tablets every morning as part of my vitamin routine so I decided to open one up and apply it to the poison ivy rash. It does a pretty good job of relieving the itching, but it's temporary like the others. I sympathize with all of you and hope this helps. Good luck!
--"Nancy" (magillilnb@NOSPAMaol.com) submitted 4/Jul/2003

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MilkWeed

I am surprised that no one mentioned milkweed as a treatment for poison ivy. I don't know what makes it work, but my husband swears by the stuff. I second that now. I pulled poison ivy vines Saturday morning and began breaking out on my exposed forearms by Saturday evening. By Monday, I had a fullblown rash & blisters on both arms from the elbow down to the wrist. I covered it repeatedly Sunday and Monday with medicated Calamine lotion to stop the itch, but the rash & blisters did not improve. Monday evening we pulled two milkweed plants out of a poison ivy-free ditch. I took them home, pulled the leaves off one by one and dabbed the "milk" sap on the rash and blisters, spreading it over the entire infected area and letting it dry. It itched like crazy for about 15-20 mins after application, but then I had sweet relief for a whole itchless night of sleep. I got up this morning, Tuesday, and the rash has improved immensely, is barely visible in spots, and doesn't itch much at all. I put some Calamine on any weepy blisters to go to work, but I will repeat with the milkweed treatment tonight. Hopefully by Wednesday evening the rash and bli sters will be gone. Only drawback besides the initial maddening itch is that the milk sap is sticky and does leave a residue on the skin, but hey, we can deal with that. It will wear/wash off eventually. Thanks for letting me share. Hope this helps someone else.
--"Lori" (elrosz11@NOSPAMnetzero.com) submitted 15/Jul/2003

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