Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Information Center


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Water (cold)

Rinse as soon as possible (everyone agrees on this). Use a LOT of COLD water. Be aware that this water is simply spreading the oil around; the idea is to use enough water to have it spread off you entirely. As someone else mentioned, hot water opens the pores and allows more oil to get in. A doctor said that to use a little water was probably worse than to do nothing at all, because it would simply spread the oil over more of your skin.
--([email protected]) submitted May/19/1994

Rinse well as water inactivates urushiol. Soap is unnecessary, but after being exposed, you must douse yourself immediately with water as the oil will usually bond with the skin in as little as 15 minutes and water will become less effective. Rubbing alcohol is a little more effective initially than water but the important part is how quickly you rinse the oil off. Again don't use a washcloth and remember not to use alcohol if you will have more exposure that day because you is removes other protective oils too.
-- William L. Epstein, MD (chairman emeritus and professor of dermatolgy at the University of California, School of Medicine.

A park ranger told us to use cold water and no soap (unlike everyone else's remedy), because the soap helps diffuse the oil. A friend of ours used this remedy on her 2 children and they had no reaction to the poison ivy. I'm surprised not to see it listed.
--"Maureen Stone" (no email provided) submitted 15/May/2002

My son gets poison sumac about 3 or 4 times a year I find that taking a quick cool shower with johnson baby wash and then after drying off applying Steroid-Free Sarna Anti-Itch Lotion (found at any Wal-Mart in the pharmacy, but not a prescription) works wonders. I also wash his bed covers everyday as he is clearing up! Just wanted to share the relief.
--"lala" ([email protected]) submitted 27/Mar/2003

I feel so blest in that it is summer in NC and with the info in the Prevention Magazine book from our library in Chapel Hill, I learned that an ice pack could help. After I rub ice cubes directly onto my affected areas, I have no itching for about 6 hours. Alot of ice cubes!
--"Patt" ([email protected]) submitted 03/Aug/2003


Water (hot)

The bit about hot water really works! After drying off then try aloe vera juice. Yes, the burn plant. I and my son tried it and it not only stopped the itch but within 2 to 3 hours it greatly reduced the swelling and the pain. Another aid is mentholatum ointment which contains 9.0% camphor. No, I don't work for them but they sure work for me especially on misqueto bites. It sure stops the itch. It makes benydril and cortaid look like wimps in comparison!
-- Kenneth Sell ([email protected]) submitted 11/Jul/2002

I can't believe something so simple as a long, hot, hot shower took away the itching for hours!! I sprayed the hottest water I could bear directly on the blisters and ohh sweet relief.
-- michelle brennan ([email protected]) submitted 27/Jun/2002

When I'm stuck with the rash and itching, and washing off the oil is no longer an option, I run hot water over the affected areas. Forget lukewarm! I use water AS HOT AS I CAN STAND IT, after careful testing of the temperature, natch. It's a wonderful way to kill the itch temporarily and it feels terrific too. Heating water in a small glass container and touching an edge to the skin is one way to apply heat to areas that are hard to get at or that have nearby delicate tissues. Use a bottle that can be sealed with a twist top to save yourself from accidental spills of hot water. That definitely gets your attention.
--Richard Ong ([email protected]) submitted 7/Jul/2001

Thanks for all the great information. I'm suffering from poison ivy right now. Just reading about it has actually provided some relief. I may try some of the other remedy suggestions but so far I have found decent relief by using the hotwater treatment. It's a little hard to take the intense itching but if you stand about 20 seconds of hot water, you'll get several hours of relief from itching. It's the cheapest and easiest way to go.
-- James Graham ([email protected]) submitted 28/Jun/2001

I wanted to say thank you and to weigh in on the poison ivy home remedy chat. I had been "immune" to ivy for years...so I thought. Last season got into some ivy and went through two weeks of hell which was brought to an end only through prescribed steroids (Prednisone). This year my exposure to ivy produced a much worse rash over both legs and arms and the steroids did not seem to help after 8 days of taking them. Today is day 10 and I haven't had the urge to scratch once since I have been doing 2 days (6 baths) of the hot water treatment I read from various entries on this web page. I think I have this beat and I thank you for such a great site. (A friend who got the ivy at the same time with me also started the hot baths and did the hair dryer technique described herein and is doing as good if not better in his ridding of this foul stuff)
--Jesse Kline ([email protected]) submitted 9/Jul/2001

I agree with a home remedy listed on your site. Dowsing the sores with very hot water (hot as you can stand it) releives the itching for hours. The experience brings great relief (even better than scratching), and seems to help the area "dry up" faster.
-- Brett Holladay ([email protected]) submitted 9/May/2001

I just found out I am pregnant and have poison ivy for the first time. I have it from head to toe. Where I live we are having a heat wave of 90 degrees and humid. Thank goodness for air-conditioning. I went to the doctor 4 days after being exposed they put me on Prednisone my OBGYN was okay with this and then a prescription topical ointment. Needless to say none of this worked I went back again 4 days later and I had many doctors in the room not knowing what to do. They gave me a higher dose of Prednisone and Hydroxyzine to take away the itch (they prescribe this also to women who have horrible nausea thru out their pregnancy) The meds have been checked by my OB and they are okay for the baby. To tell you the truth I can't tell a difference. The best thing that has helped me is to soak my arms and legs in as hot of water as I can stand (with Aveeno) without over heating me and the baby. Then I gradually cool the water down and soak the rest of my body for a minimum of 20 min. Then I use any kind of anti itch cream available. I was using a hair conditioner by Nioxin called Scalp Therapy which cooled me down and took the itch away but it wasn't helping with
Pregnant and Itchy!!!!
-- Melissa Daniels ([email protected]) submitted 2/Jul/2002

The hot water Idea works for me, and because of your web site I now know why. Along with a hot shower I use Fel Naptha laundry soap, and I have found Ivory Liquid dishwashing detergent works well also. Then after the hot shower I use some kind of anti itch cream or gel, this protects against infection. "Be sure to cleanse the skin, even if you are too late to prevent the rash entirely before using a hot bath or hot shower. Heat releases histamine, the substance in the cells of the skin which causes the intense itching. Therefore, a hot shower or bath will cause intense itching as the histamine is released. The heat is gradually increased to the maximum tolerable and continued until the itching has subsided. This process will deplete the cells of histamine and the patient will often obtain eight hours of relief from the itching."
--Zip Anderson ([email protected]) submitted 18/Sep/2000

I have poison ivy right now and I have found the BEST way to get rid of the itching is to run tepid water over the sores and then increase the temperature to a level that is bearly tolerable. I have it on my leg rash and blistering and I stood in the shower for about 15 minutes and just sighed. It indeed took away the itching for at least eight hours . . . what a relief. I'm also using a cortizone cream to help promote healing.
--Ronnie ([email protected]) submitted 12/Jul/2000

Run hot water over the affected area (as hot as you can stand it without burning) . This will immediately relieve itching and quickly help to heal the affected area.
[email protected] submitted 6/Jul/2000

Be sure to cleanse the skin, even if you are too late to prevent the rash entirely before using a hot bath or hot shower. Heat releases histamine, the substance in the cells of the skin which causes the intense itching. Therefore, a hot shower or bath will cause intense itching as the histamine is released. The heat is gradually increased to the maximum tolerable and continued until the itching has subsided. This process will deplete the cells of histamine and the patient will often obtain eight hours of relief from the itching. This method has the advantage of not requiring frequent application of ointments to the lesions and is a good way to get some sleep at night. Poison ivy or oak will persist for the same length of time despite the medication. If secondary bacterial infection occurs, healing will be delayed; hence scratching is not helpful. Cut the nails to avoid damage to the skin through scratching."
--([email protected]) submitted May/19/1999

When I break out in a rash caused by poison ivy I run water as hot as I can possibly stand over the rash. I start with warm water and slowly raise the temperature until it is as hot as I can stand it. This helps with the itching and usually after 3 or 4 hours I no longer itch. The rash usually disappears after 4 or 5 days with this treatment.
--([email protected]) submitted Oct/4/1999

Just another endorsement here for the hot water treatment recommended in the posts. I've been infected twice this year with the rash, currently on my mid-torso and the underside of both forearms. I read through previous postings, and decided to give the hot water treatment a go (I'd already noticed some relief in the warm shower).
Ramping up the temperature is a must for the treatment to work, being cautious not to scald yourself with sudden and wild changes there. The relief, and dare I say, pleasure derived from concentrating very hot water directly on the areas infected approaches a euphoric level once you find the right temperature. I haven't any idea how length of treatment (15min. Or until the heater gives out for me) affects outcome, but my relief since starting yesterday lasts close to 6 hours between showers.
Additionally, I've started washing by hand only - having discarded the puffy I normally use for fear of spreading any remaining oil by using it. The temporary change from full-size body towel to hand towels (a new one after every shower!) saves on laundry too.
It's too early to tell how long it will take to clear up, but I've completely done away with the OTC creams and other topicals as the itching is either gone completely or at quite tolerable levels (a great indicator for another treatment) now.
Thank you again to all the previous posts on this very irritating subject... -E Olson San Francisco, CA
--Erik Olson ([email protected]) submitted 17/Jul/2001

Hot water stops the itching completely for several hours. I also appears to help heal the blisters. The water should be as hot as the palms of your hands can stand (this is hotter than the hot shower suggested by others). Use of a wash cloth makes it easier to apply the water and holds contact longer. There is significant discomfort (pain that almost feels good) when the water is applied, but the pain and itching go away instantly when the water is removed. No pain, no gain.
--"Bill Fadden" ([email protected]) submitted 17/Jul/2001

I have suffered from poison ivy for the past eight years and finally this year found that "hot enough to almost cook your skin" water is the most beautiful relief while its being applied and keeps the prickling at bay for hours. Most of the time I can even sleep though the night. I've found that it almost completely eliminates oozing and the swelling goes down much faster. I can completely drain our hot water tank while taking a boiling hot shower, but careful with your body parts that don't have the rash.
--"Jo" ([email protected]) submitted 25/Jul/2001

Finally found relief. Thanks for the great hot water treatment and Clorox advice. Suffering from some killer poison oak right now. Last time I had poison ivy I used brake cleaner on it and it dried up and went away. Tried it again on the poison oak and the only that has brought any relief was the hot water and chlorine. Gonna buy some of that Ivy Cover stuff before I hike Mt. Diablo again. Anybody know of some good stuff that will keep the ivy off you to begin with?
--"Steve" ([email protected]) submitted 29/Jul/2001

I contacted poison ivy by doing my husband`s laundry. He trims trees and had to clean out a feild of the nasty stuff. To bad for me he failed to tell me it was all over his clothes. The next day my hands, arms, and even the bottoms of my feet were covered and very badly swollen.My fingers and palms of my hands were very swollen and painful. I started the hot water baths after trying the ointments. To my surprise it worked! The itching gets very intense under the scalding water and the baths were so hot it hardly seemed worth it until I got out. Aaaahhhhh. I stopped using the ointments and continued the baths and so far it works better than anything else. It also seems to be bringing the rash to a head and healing quicker. The hot water seems to really bring out the rash and at frist it scared me because it looked worse but then I realized it was drawing out the poison.I Sleep better and the itching is releived for hours. Thanks for this great info and I am sure I would be suffering more if this website was not around.
--"Rocky" ([email protected]) submitted 7/Aug/2001

I am suffering from my worse bout of poison ivy in years. I've found only a few things work well for me... As others on the sight have mentioned, ultra hot water - as hot as you can stand it, the euphoric sensation and the non-itch is worth the heat. However, the best thing I've found to dry the oil is anti-perspirant... It definetly keeps it dry! I use a stick, but I'm guessing the aerosol probably works even better!
--"Rosie" ([email protected]) submitted 13/Aug/2001

I also use the Hot water method to relieve the itching for some weird reaso= n this seems to work the best for me, after the hot water treatment I use Ivy Super Dry this product will dry out the blister's in 2 day's. You need to be careful if you have sensitive skin because it will make your skin very dry.
--"Christopher Couture" ([email protected]) submitted 28/Aug/2001

I have to weigh in with my poison ivy tale. I have always been extremely sensitive to it but an injection of cortisone has always worked like magic. This last time it started on my left cheek, progressed to the left side of my face and neck, the right side of face and neck, and my inner upper arms. Not weepy but terribly red and itchy. At that point an injection of corticosteroid from the dermatologist apparently did no good. The rash went on to my inner thighs, groin and belly. I applied the cortisone derivative ointment twice a day but it continued to itch terribly, and got especially annoying when I fell asleep. At this point I looked up your site and read about the various poison ivy treatments and decided to try the hot water ("as hot as you can stand it") treatment. I have to say that at first each spot that the hot water hits will itch intensely (and I do mean intensely) and you move around hitting all your ivy until the intense itching stops. Then I was blessed with up to 8 hours relief from the itching. Of course after the hot water treatment all the ivy was flaming red and it really didn't seem to improve the rash at all (just the itching). Anyway, after two weeks of hot water and three weeks of cortisone ointment it is finally dying down. I can tell because the rash is darker (not as angry looking) and the itching is considerably less. I have stopped the hot water and have run out of ointment but hope (and pray) this is the end of it. Thanks for listening. Dorothy Vining
[email protected] submitted 3/Sep/2001

I broke out from poison ivy a few days ago, last night it was unbareable. At 3 am I was up, unable to sleep from the intense heat and itching. I had read on one of the boards about letting very hot water run over the infected areas. I had taken benedryl before I went to bed and also had applied an anti-itching cream but there I was, wide awake. So, I decided, what did I have to lose? I sat on the edge of my bath tub and started the water out warm, I let the water run over my legs and slowing increased the heat until I could barely tolerate it. It burned and itched horribly at first, but I continued and after a few minutes the itching was gone. It works!!! I couldn't believe it. The itching was totally gone. I went back to bed and didn't wake back up until my alarm clock went off. Some folks said it lasts for 8 hours, I may not have stayed under the hot water long enough but mine only lasted about 4 hours, but still nothing that I have tried (benedryl, cooling cream, anti-itch cream, hydrocortisone)did more for me than the hot water. I wanted to post this because its a great way to get relief without having to reapply creams that at least for me, don't help very much. Hope this helps you sleep too:)
--"Nickie" ([email protected]) submitted 11/Sep/2001
Editor: When I had it very bad, I also was getting about 4 hours relief. I am ashamed to admit that I probably enjoyed the sensation of the Hot Water a little more than I should have. Pitiful! But when your itch becomes uncontrollable and you have tried everything ... It sure feels good! Those of you that have tried this know exactly what I mean!

I've had a case of poison ivy for a week. I have tried the hot water treatment twice. Nothing has seemed to help stop the spread of red blotches on my skin. I'm worried that the hot water treatment has, in fact, increased the spread.Hot water is an inexpensive and quick method of symptomatic treatment. Yes, it provides immense relief. But I suspect that it ultimately prolongs the poison ivy experience. Think about it: your body does this trick where it localizes toxins. This is why blisters form at sites of bacterial infection, burns, and poisons--the body locks the dirty stuff away from the bloodstream. Urushiol is a thin oil. It has a sufficiently powerful effect on the human body that it doesn't really matter how much urushiol you have, just how spread out it is. Though it only causes reactions in the dermis, it can travel through the bloodstream. When it travels, it settles in and disturbs new parts of the dermis. Hot water expands your capillaries, gorging what is probably already swollen skin with blood. A bit of the poison leaves your skin as it dissolves in the blood. Now the poison gets to wander into the veins. Not much of it makes it to the liver and kidneys to be excreted--that's why systemic reactions take so long to go away. Much more of it, because it is an oil, settles in your fat cells, where it stays until you burn them. Now you have tiny deposits of a harmful agent all over in your body, instead of all in one place like it was before you took that soothing hot shower. So it takes longer to get rid of the agent, which gives it more time to cause skin damage. Wouldn't it make more sense to keep the poison on the outside of your body until you shed the skin it inhabits, in the meantime taking your antihistamines to avoid the urge to scratch? Antihistamines are cheap, over-the-counter, and harmless.Buck up and take some cold showers, washing thoroughly with a mild soap. Your body's way of localizing, neutralizing, and shedding the poison with the epidermis is a much faster way to have this over with than any method that spreads the urushiol around. Do not make the mistake I made when I followed this hot water advice. All it got me was more bumps, and what I expect will be a longer recovery time.
--"Jeff" ([email protected]) submitted 3/Oct/2001

RE:Hot water treatment. This is why it works. The stuff that makes your skin itch is called histamine. Your body makes it. To control the itch some people reccommend an antihistamine such as benedryl "the histamine blocker". What hot water does is it draws out the histamine thereby stopping the itch. It takes your body 6-8 hours to regenerate the histamine which why you start itching again.
--"Daniel Burns" ([email protected]) submitted 5/Apr/2002

I have poison oak for the first time in my life and boy is it bad. I first noticed it on my face and groin ( have no idea how it got there :) ). It has spread to my arms, back and stomach. It has been a terrible experience and the only good thing to come out of it are my showers. After I turn the shower on warm, I get in, and continue to make it hotter. I make the water so hot that I can barely stand it -- damn it feels good!!!! Its almost as good as sex! Well, maybe not. But it does take away almost all itching for at least 4 hours. You have to try it.
--"Max Siva" ([email protected]) submitted 16/Apr/2002

Re: Water (hot) Remedy is Bittersweet to say the least, but this is by far (and in all my years of getting poison ivy rashes) the best relief I've found for hours of comfort (I've tried many). Bittersweet because the intensity of the histamines being released due to the application of the extremely hot water is enough to make you scream (and not with delight). You may want to consider keeping a tightly rolled up washcloth in your mouth to bite down on when you get "cooking". This is no match for simply not getting the rash but you're here reading this so go on - get in the shower! Thanks to all that posted on this web site. I'm grateful this information was here! -- Fred Block
--"Fred Block" ([email protected]) submitted 9/May/2002

I started out with what I thought was merely a pimple or two...then I broke out in a big red huge ugly rash on my face which spread to my arms legs and abdomin. the itching was sooo intense....i tried to figure out what I did that caused this terrible itchy rash...my husband and I went out and surveyed the area where I was doing my gardening and found it to be loaded with poison ivy...i went to my doctor and he prescribed prednisone(the 6 day pill pak) and diprolene AF.....i also bought calagel ,aveeno cream,aveeno bath soaks and took benedryl.my face,eyes and ears were swelling so bad it throbbed. I read in here about the hot water...and I tried it...it was sooooooo relieving!!!!!!!!!!!but so far in addition to the hot water I found that my very own houseplant (aloe) worked wonders.hope this helps someone else...
--"linda" ([email protected]) submitted 24/May/2002

I found that very very hot showers gave about 1/2 days relief. This also feels good when covered in poison ivy. My poison ivy finally dried up and went away within 2 days of bathing in about 2 boxes of baking soda. I found that bleach did very little.
--"Cammy" ([email protected]) submitted 10/Jun/2002

Regarding all of the hot water treatments, I am incredibly allergic and love nothing more than a really hot shower for relief however hot water pulls blood to the surface of your skin and can then carry the poison all over your body. Been there done that will never do it again.
--"Mark" ([email protected]) submitted 13/Jun/2002

I have read this site and thanks. Hot water does make it stop itching for a long time. My mother had a clorox remedy that seemed to help. She would take just a cap full of clorox into a tub of bath water. Between the hot water and the bleach it really does help.
--"Danny" ([email protected]) submitted 9/Aug/2002

I would like to thank all the people that recommended hot water to help with the itching. I had burned a huge pile of brush and evidently the Poison Ivy was in it because the smoke got me good on one half of my body. I had to wait 3 days before I could get in to see the doctor, it spread in the meantime and the hot water treatments really helped until I could get in to see him. I used hot water straight out of the tap on my arms and it helped a lot, I had to splash the hot water on my face and it wasn't quite as effective. Between the hot water, Caladryl Lotion and Benadryl the itching was pretty much controlled. When it came time to see the doctor I was covered with blisters and my eyes were starting to swell shut. He prescribed Methylpredni which you take for about a week. While at the pharmacy picking up the prescription I asked the pharmacist what was a good itch controller, he recommended Ivy Dry. It comes in a liquid, put it on with cotton balls and works great. Between the pills and the liquid the blisters have disappeared and the swelling is just about gone in a little over 24 hours. I still have the redness but it is slowly going away. Be forewarned that the Ivy Dry stings like the devil on sensitive parts of your body for a minute or two. No problem on the legs, arms and torso but on the face a definite ouch for a couple of minutes but it is well worth it. I am continuing with the liquid and Benadryl, between the two I am on a speedy recovery. Good luck to all of you and have a great day! Jan from Oklahoma
--"Jslittlefarm" ([email protected]) submitted 18/Aug/2002

Yes! Hot water really does work. I get it so bad that I actually get bruises. The first time I was exposed to it and broke out was from indirect contact. I had it for three months and it took straight steroids (oral, topical and injections) to get rid of it. The only cure I have (other than the steroids) consists of three treatments a day. I soak in as hot of water as I can stand and then scrubbing my entire body with a sudsy body brush. After I dry off I pour straight alcohol on every speck of the rash. It sounds painful, but the burning actually feels good compared to the itching. Once absorbed, I use Ivarest and allow it dry. I then take Benadryl and go to bed. This usually relieves the uncomfort for the night. Then I repeat in the morning before work (minus the Benadryl). I usually have to rush home after work for the mid-day treatment because that's about when the itching starts up again (I skip the Benadryl then also). Great site! Chrisy Johnson
--"Chrisy Johnson" ([email protected]) submitted 20/Aug/2002

I decided to help a close friend by working in her new yard with getting rid of the posion ivy. Just about a week and a half later we both found out we didn't protect ourselves good enough. Well one night the iching woke me, actually about 3:30 am. I thought I would go crazy rubbing my arms. I got out an old book from my health ins. Co. And prayed for a home remedy...hot water it was. I couldn't believe how after a few minutes of pain under that hot water I was able to sleep like a baby. My friend didn't trust this remedy but I'm convinced. I have spread the word to other friends just in case but they mostly look at me funny. I was glad to find this site and to hear other testamonials saying the same thing. Thanks!
--"Karen" ([email protected]) submitted 30/Aug/2002

Many of the remedies listed here are far too complicated. Here's the deal. I had poison ivy really bad and it was on most of my body. If you can go to the doctor and get the shot that works. Do this asap so that your duration of pain will be minimized. Second, products such as Zanfel work too. I have found that a great deal of relief can be had by using hot water. After you have come into contact with pi and its been on you for more than say an hour, there arent any more preventive measures you can take to not breakout. If you simply shower several times a day, at first using soap as you normally would, after that you use water as hot as you can stand and put it on the affected areas. The hot water will release the histamine in one huge rush and you will feel a itching sensation that is undescribable for approximately 3 seconds. After that however you will feel no itch whatsoever for about 6 hours. It seems too simple but it works....very hot water will release the !histamine in your body all at once and you will be itch free for hours afterwards. Also, change clothes after each shower and wash bedsheets and the like every day. In less than 2 weeks the itching, swelling, and redness will be completely gone.
--"Bill" ([email protected]) submitted 14/Jan/2003

I've suffered from Poison Ivy for over three years, ever since I buoght my house. The worst case lasted almost 4 months and covered over 60% of my body (I mean everywhere). At first I left it alone (with minor scratching here and there) but it eventually spread to my face and eyes. My grandfather prescribed me small doses of prednesome for 10 days (10mg per day). This reduced the swelling and and made the rash seem to disapear. But with in days of the final dose, it started to come back with a vengence. Now occuping my face, chest, legs, and even in between my fingers and toes (talk about anoying). When this happened, I knew it was time to see a real doctor. He then prescribed prednisome again (6 days of 60mg then 6 days of 40mg and finally 6 days of 20 mg). Though the dose was significantly higher, there was little effect (plus not to mention the tremendous negative effects of the prednisome steroid on the body). At this point I had no clue what to do, and finally started listening to some hippie friends. Super hot water, was the only remedy to take away the itching, and it really worked! Its non itch period lasted about 8 hours, allowing me to sleep, but still the rash was still there. Here's when I found that a warm salt water bath (put a lot of salt water in) for about 30 min (not to mention it cleans the tub) twice a day (after the Super hot shower) seemed to make it dissapear in about 5 days. Also another remedy that helps for small rashes is face soap with sylacylic acid.
--M C ([email protected]) submitted 24/Feb/2003

I thought I was crazy when I was deriving enjoyment (and relief) from a hot hot shower, but since visiting your site, I take a hot hot shower everytime the itching starts and it really helps. Thanks for helping me feel less crazy.
--"Angela" ([email protected]) submitted 2/Apr/2003

I'm suffering from poison ivy right now!! I am only typing with my left hand because my right hand is so swolen. I am on a cream from the doctor right now. I like the hot water the most though. I turn the shower on blazing hot, and stay in it for about 30 minutes. I might try either the baking soda or the white vinegar trick. Hot water relieves the itch temporarily, about 2-3 hours. If it's really bad on your hand or foot, get a plastic container and fill it up with hot water. This also relieves the itching. Thanks!!!
--"Joe" (no email provided) submitted 9/Apr/2003

I just got some terrible poision ivy covering my face, everyone told me to use calladryl clear to dry it up... But its so bad that my left eye is swollen so I can hardly see and my right eye is just starting to swell. My face is all red and covered with blisters and yellow ooze. After applying calladryl clear it only got worse and so I took a shower... Everyone said it was going to spread but it didnt... A hot shower and when I was done my face had most pain relieved... For a few hours. Id reconmend anyone with seriously bad poision ivy on their face to take a hot shower... It doesnt work as well as other areas but it does provide temporary relief.
--Meaghan ([email protected]) submitted 9/Apr/2003

I recently got poison ivy under my right ear from a botany project, and it started spreading across my face and onto my ear. When I went to the doctor, he warned me not to use hot water (which many people have been forwarding as a soothing agent) on the rash -- in fact, I was to shower and wash my face in the coolest water I could stand. Heat -- from showers, exertion, etc. -- exaccerbates the problems caused by poison ivy because it increases blood flow. Increased blood flow leads to greater swelling and possibly further spreading of the rash.
--"Susan Stewart" ([email protected]) submitted 1/May/2003
Editor: Those interested in exactly what is happening during the rash may find this site which describes the immune response useful. You might also try ice cubes or cold compresses. Unfortunately, hot water feels great on a burning itch. Once you try it, it is very hard not to want to do it again. Hot water also causes drying which could make the itch more intense later perhaps. I received quite a bit of relief until I could get zanfel mailed to me a few years back.

I have about 3 medical books in my house and one in particular stated to get in the shower and let hot water run over your rashes, gradually increasing the hotness...I Noticed that each time the water got hotter, the rash itched for about 1 minute then stopped, It took me about 5 minutes or less and it cured my itching for about the next 4 hours..and I must tell you it felt good!!..seeing as how I'd been using Aveeno Hydorcortisone cream and Gold Bond Powder...all day every day...
--T Baker ([email protected]) submitted 28/May/2003

When I contract pi my whole body gets polluted with it. I look like a reject from a science fiction movie. Bleach has never worked for me. Hot water mixed with anything has done nothing but irritate the exposed areas. A trip to the local public pool with swollen limbs and profusely leaking sores isn't very practical or welcome from other patrons. Washing with Tecnu after being out seems to help control the severity of the rash. The Calamine spray has been very soothing and helped promote drying of the sores (regular calamine is too weak, it must be the spray). Used along with Benedryl, taken orally, it can be bearable. Cold baths using liquid unscented antibacterial soap will not irritate it. Years ago there was a series of shots that you could get (1 a week for 4 weeks) that would prevent you from contracting the rash. The Government stopped approving the batches of this vaccine because there were many other vaccines to be tested and approved that were deemed more important (I was informed of this by the allergist that I could no longer get the shots from).
--"THOMAS FIALKOVICH" ([email protected]) submitted 31/May/2003

I have had poison ivy maybe two or three times in my life, and it's been several years since I've had it. But the pleasure, yes pleasure of hot water running over the area affected by poison ivy makes me want to get it again. My friend currently has poison ivy, and if I thought he'd do it I'd probably ask him to rub a little on my arm just so I can experience the euphoria of hot water running over it, it's an unbelievable rush!! It sounds crazy but it is the best feeling I've ever had, I could sit for hours dousing my poison ivy with hot water! I strongly recommend hot water for anyone who is fortunate enough to have poison ivy!
--"Terry" ([email protected]) submitted 7/Jun/2003

The hot water idea is great for most of the body. I had a bad case on my elbow, and used the hot water idea on that. As you may know the skin on your elbow is pretty well dead when it comes to pain. I got the water too hot and had nasty burn blisters on the skin for much longer than the pi lasted. I just couldn't feet how hot the water was.
--Michael and Dana Herrington ([email protected]) submitted 11/Jul/2003

First, thank you for this website. I found it at 3am when itching miserably from my first bout with poison ivy. I would like to tell you what recommendations from your webiste worked for me. I first took a hot shower (using Dial soap). I then used a blow dryer on the hottest setting. While both of these methods send you through the roof when doing it, it immediately relieves the itching once the heat is taken away. I then followed up with Band Aid (formerly Rhuli brand) Calamine spray. This method gave me relief for over 6 hours, and I noticed that the first patches of rash started to dry up. Now, I did have the rash for 4 days before starting this treatment, so it may be that it was starting to dry up and heal on its own, but I think the above methods are well worth a try. If it only relives the itch it is worth it!
--Melissa Sever ([email protected]) submitted 04/Aug/2003


Water (Salt/Chlorine/Clorox) and Sun

I don't recommend this to anyone at all, but what helps my poison ivy is to take a rough washcloth, soak it in pure, 100% clorox bleach, and proceed to rub it on the affected area(s) until it burns so bad that you want to scream bloody murder. Initially, it makes you writhe in pain, but later there's no itch, its dry within hours. This also works well for ringworm. Once again, I don't advise anyone to do this, in fact, make sure you don't. It will hurt like crazy and might have very bad effects on your skin. byebye ivy, though.
-- andrew ([email protected]) submitted 7/May/2001
Editor: As Andrew said... NOT recommended.

I recently applied bleach to my posion ivy, as instucted by someone who made a post on this site. I would just like everyone who is considering this to know that it burns so bad I can't even think straight. I feel like my leg is on fire. Perhaps the fact that small sections of the ivy were open scabs has something to do with the immense pain I am no suffering through. I don't recommend this method for women or males who have a low tolerance for pain. I have a considerably high tolerlance for pain and have contemplated removing my entire leg to relieve the burning. I will be back on in the morning to report whether or not it had any affect on the rash. As of now, I don't reccomned this treatment for anyone who doesn't want to suffer through teeth clenching pain.
-- Mike ([email protected]) submitted 3/Jul/2002

Since the natural sough off of the skin is the ultimate end of the condition, I have heard of using a topical application of clorox to speed the dry-up and slough off of the infected area. Will this work? Another old european poor-folks remedy was to hold a match close to the skin, causing a mild "burn" speeding up the slough off process. Will this work? Thanks for any help. My husband has the condition on his hands and I would like to speed his recovery if possible.
--Louise Hanel ([email protected]) submitted 02/Jul/2001

Had many bouts with PI and sumac. For sure the best is just to go down to the ocean and soak.
-- Anonymous submitted 26/Aug/2000

I'd like to share that the best remedy for me is ocean water and sunshine ! It never fails me ! A vacation and cure...who needs another reason to go ? Try it !
--"Beya" ([email protected]) submitted 24/Jul/2000

I get poison oak almost every year and I have 2 simple, similar, effective remedies.
Salt Water and Sun: Hit the beach and splash around in the ocean for a bit. Then grab a blanket and relax in the sun. Chlorinated Water and Sun: Also works with pool water. On cloudy days hit the local health club for a swim and then spend about a half hour in the tanning booth. Problem solved.
--POB ([email protected]) submitted Jul/3/1999

My mother suggests diluted clorox (1 tbs to 1 cup water) to rinse the infected area. She has had several severe cases, and swears by this cure. I currenntly have a mild case, but clorox seems extreme. Have you heard anything about this cure?
-- ([email protected]) submitted Jul/12/1999
Editor note: I have heard that Clorox of years ago was both a weaker solution and of a slightly different composition. Modern day Clorox may cause scaring if it burns the skin as a result of not being diluted enough I have heard.

I seem to get poison ivy just by looking at a picture of it. I have found that by getting into a swimming pool for about 30 minutes will stop the itching and will completely dry it up within a few days. That has worked better for me than anything the Dr. has ever prescribed. You can also pour 3 cups of any chlorine household bleach in bath water and soak for about 30 minutes.
-- Unknown ([email protected]) submitted Jul/22/1999
Editor note: My neighbors think I should be selling my pool water as they recently found the same thing. Of course, I had shocked the pool the day before which made it even more effective in my mind.

Swimming in a pool with clorine and/or sit in a hot tub works really well for me. I guess it is the clorine in the pool that kind of kills off the poison.
-- Shelly Petersen ([email protected]) submitted Jun/15/2000

All my life I have been severly allergic to poison ivy. Its all over the backyard and I also pick it up off the dogs. During one bad case on my calf I noticed that after SWIMMING that they began to dry up and heal. The chlorine does a great job of drying it up. I can't say it will make the iching stop, but it does seem to kill it off.
-- Sara Thornton submitted 16/Jun/2001

I briefly reviewed some of the remedies that were listed and found one indicating oxygen appeared to help relieve poison ivy itching and rash. Several months ago my son-in-law had a case of poison ivy. When I saw the rash it was fairly large. He and my daughter spent around 30 minutes in our hot tub. The next day the rash was unbelievably smaller and didn't itch. The hot tub is sanitized with ozone and we put in "dichlor" after each use. Have you ever heard of ozone as a treatment for poison ivy? It "fits in" with using oxygen....just one more oxygen atom. I'd be curious if anyone has ever used this technique. I haven't checked with my doctor yet. Thanks.
-- Roger A. Gapinski ([email protected]) submitted 28/Jun/2001

Blisters and more blisters is how I describe my bouts with poison ivy. I tried Ivarest and Benadryl gel, but found they are helpful for itch only. I will say that Ivarest seemed to make it weep more, but it is messy (colored), whereby Benadryl gel is clear. The most effective remedy was following the recommendation to take a swim. After about 45 minutes in the pool (hotel), my wounds were 100 times improved. When I got home I dabbed them with bleach using a clean cotton cloth ... burns like hell, but very effective at drying them out. The next day my blisters were gone and the areas were dry. I only wish I checked this website at the first sign of contact and not after 2-3 days of blisters and ooze! Thanks all for the various suggestions, even the guys that urinate on themselves; we had a good laugh in my office with that one!
--"Greg G" ([email protected]) submitted 17/Jul/2001

I have found a good solution to ending the poison ivy problem. I work for a park and I had to put clorine tablets in our fountain one day. The water was already pretty clorinated and I stuck my arm in it to put the tablets in. The poison ivy was on my arm and I noticed that it dried up a mater of hours later. The next time I did got poison ivy, I tried the same trick and it worked. So the trick is to find a clorinated water source and stick your affected area in and it wil dry up. My friend also tried this in a pool and it worked pretty well too. Brian
--"Brian Richards" ([email protected]) submitted 17/Jul/2001

Recently, My son and I was clearing away brush over growth in my backyard. We both had a terrible out break of poison oak or ivy, the reaction is all the same to me. I was suffering with my out break( however taking the very hot baths and using antibacterial Dial Soap gave some relief.) My son was going swimming in a community pool, and the chlorine from the pool cleared his outbreak up in less than 4 days.
I started adding about a 1/2 cup of Bleach to my hot bath water and I too started seeing clearing and less itching and the bleach help fade the skin discoloration's.
I believe from the first exposure to the vines, if you come right in and bath in very hot water, using Antibacterial Dial(scrubbing the skin well with the soapy towel) and Chlorine the outbreak will be very minimal.
--"Hobson, Marion" ([email protected]) submitted 9/Aug/2001

I used to get it all the time now it's only once every other year. The best way I found to get rid of it is to shock my pool then go in for 15 min. Get out, If it's not cold air dry, if it cold blot dry with a towel and throw the towel in the wash.
--"Metz, Frank E, JR (Frank)" ([email protected]) submitted 28/Aug/2001

I have always been able to clear up poison ivy on my skin by swimming in the Hudson River. This is not a joke. Don't know why it works, but it does, and I'm not the only one.
--"Kate Burgess" ([email protected]) submitted 10/Jun/2002

I've had bouts with "The Ivy" since childhood. I've found that the pre-treatments such as "Ivy Block" can help a little but let's face it, who intentionally wades into the stuff. I've found that the process that works best for me is to use the chlorine/Pool method. I've also found that public pools tend to work better as they in most cases will have a higher chlorine content than most private pools. Diluted chlorine baths work to some extent as well. I've found that I'm usually doomed because after yardwork(which is where I usually get it) I hop in the warm shower. After a couple of days it dries up.
--"Jeff S " ([email protected]) submitted 19/Jun/2002

Two weekends ago a rash appeared that itched like crazy. Everyone that I asked had no idea what it was. I had never had poison ivy, oak or sumac so I was really in the dark. I wasn't sure if it was pi or chigger bites. I First tried to kill the so called chiggers with fingernail polish. However, that just caused the itching to get even more intense. Now I am using and anti-itch lotion called Caladryl. The majority of my rash is gone now but the place with the worst infection is in between my toes. From reading many of the stories here on this website it is gone and it only took two days where as the rest took two weeks. Swimming in a pool for a few hours definitely helped to stop the itch and heal the sores.Thanks, Charity
--"Charity" ([email protected]) submitted 12/Jul/2002


Water (Chlorine/Clorox)

Warning about too strong a mixture

Looked over some of your viewers remedies and noticed one with chlorine in it. Dilluted to 1:1 ratio i believe it said. Last year i received a fairly bad exposure to poison oak and one of my friends grandmother had the sure fire cure for it This cure turned out to be the diluted chlorine solution mentioned here. It not only didnt cure the poison oak but it also caused an epidermal infection which i had to go receive medical treatment for. This was after only a few doses of the homemade cure. My doctor said that the problem comes not from the chlorine itself but from some of the other chemicals in it. He said that these chemicals are irritants and when applied to open rash sores they absorb into the skin and when the sores scab over it is difficult to remove them. Just thought you might want to pass this information on to your viewers in case they to should run into problems like i had.
-- Ian Harrell ([email protected]) submitted Dec/10/1999
Editor note: Thanks for the great feedback! Everyone note that the viewer feedback is 1 tbs to 1 cup... NO ONE SHOULD MIX IT 1:1 as above. Your warning will prevent others from making a similar mistake.

Having to fight the stuff for over 50 years, I can say the best cure for the rash at first sign of burning, and reddness, apply kitchen bleach several times a day to rash areas - the "super" best cure, I tried just last week - nothing but good ole' "lye soap"- soap it down "good", don't rinse it off, let soap lather stay on, ( 3 or 4 times daily) for day or two- It really works !! Good luck
-- Tommie Sitton([email protected]) submitted Jun/4/2000

I get poison ivy,oak and sumac more than anyone... I believe all year long even in the dead of winter I have tried and used absolutely everything. Ointments stop itch for a few minutes and it doesnt make it go away the Best thing that works for me is the bleach treatment it will work for anyone and that is a promise. My family has been doing this for generations it works! Just get a damp to dry washcloth and rub your poison ivy until it opens up then soak another wash cloth in pure bleach rub this all over your arm then pour bleach on your arm do it again the next day and it will be gone it workds everytime and I have never scene a bad after effect from it. If it burns sit in front of the Air Conditioner it works for poison ivy,oak, and sumac
--"chris mc" ([email protected]) submitted 31/Jul/2001

I heard that if you put bleach on your poison rash it will help to dry it out. I've actually tried this and it works quite well. The only problem with this is that it stings really bad, but personally I would rather have my poison rash sting than itch. :)
[email protected] submitted 7/Aug/2001

I have been getting pi every year. Two days ago I went on this web-site and found out that people have used regular clorox bleach on the boubbles. I tried it and its like a miracle. I mixed Bleach with water(1/3 bleach,2/3 water). Then I took paper towel dipped it in the glass and rubbed the wonderful mixture into the bubbles pretty hard. (Make sure that you have a fan blowing on you because it might burn). It hurt for a while but in about 3 hours the bubbles went down, the itching stopped and the next day the bubbles were almost gone. Try it. IT's unbelivable.
--Sylvek ([email protected]) submitted 18/Sep/2001

Just to drop a quick line about some remedies I found to be the best. Raw concentrated bleach, like Clorox Ultra. Works every time and the quickest. I made the mistake of buying the generic stuff in the big bottles and all is caused was a lot of pain. Once I got the short bottles of Clorox Ultra, results came immediately. Goldbond powder works great also. It relieves the itching and helps dry up the rash. If it gets too bad I go to the Dr., But I'm also allergic to the shots of Prednizone so I have to take the MedPacks of Prednizone in pill form. The last time the Dr. Also gave me the Ultravate cream which works fine, just don't use it on your face! It can cause permenant cosmedic scars of used for prolong periods of time. (Or so the Dr. Said.) I've also used Dramamine which works alright.
--"Harding, Eron" ([email protected]) submitted 1/Oct/2001

Well, I have always been plagued by Poison Oak,Ivy,and Sumac! I have tried alot of different things, Shots or Cortizone pills are a guaranteed fix but that takes 4-5 days.I Have almost always taken a bath of Very Warm to Hot water with 1 cup of Clorox, in really bad cases I use 2 cups. Note: 1-2 cups in a fully drawn bath. Clorox will burn you if the ratio is too close. Also I have a remedy for weeping and oozing rashes - Baking Soda mixed with just a little water to make a dry paste, applied to affected areas, for roughly 15 minutes, will "suck" the oil from the skin, this is very helpful for really bad spots, dries it right out. When all else fails bite the bullet and scratch like mad - Just Kidding!Troy
--"Troy Lavelle" ([email protected]) submitted 28/Nov/2001

I was just browsing the web for tips on relieving the mild case of pi on my hands and wrists (I was weeding in an area that had the plant last year, which I killed with roundup then. Obv. I need to kill it again!). I'm concerned about all the advice to use undiluted chlorox. Chlorine bleach is extremely toxic stuff that can do serious chemical damage to skin and membranes. I wouldn't use it undiluted on my skin unless I checked with an expert first to make sure it's really safe. I don't know if it's worth the risk to try to soothe the poison ivy by irritating your skin with what might be a more dangerous poison.
--"Marie" (no email provided) submitted 11/Apr/2002

Got severe itching around ankles and legs and feet and tried ivy dry, benedryl, and that did not work, I have scratched myself mad untill my wife suggested chlorox, she wiped it un diluted on infected area and it stung where I of course had scratched it raw, however the itch was gone and lasts all day. Looks like after this 3 week plus problem its slowly going away now.Thanks Chlorox. Do be carefull out there best. test little part of you area first. Luke fincham (Memphis)
--"Bluesky Incorporated" ([email protected]) submitted 1/Jun/2002

After all else failed miserably, chlorine bleach worked wonders for me. Not only does it dry up the poison ivy but the burning actually soothed the itching. From reading the other posts on here it is obvious that differing things worked for differing people but for me rubbing the bleach on the infected areas did the trick...........BIG Time! And relief from poison ivy is good!! Many Blessings, Ken
--"Ken" ([email protected]) submitted 1/Jun/2002

I also get poison Ivy once a year and it is never a small case. When I get poison I use the bleach remedy. I would suggest washing all your clothes and sheets and then using a small amount of bleach to wash your body. After the sores develop try to treat them individually as they start. Bleach will kill the poisons but be careful. Do not scratch and open the sores. If the sores are open just be careful with the bleach as it may burn or cause worse irratations.
--"Brian Stahl" ([email protected]) submitted 14/Sep/2002

I get poison Ivy about once a year, or maybe twice and I am not a very patient person. I would like to have it gone in a day or two and have the itch gone along with the rash. Here's what I do: I just take a razor and lightly shave where the poison is (just shave the bumps off to open up the poison), and then I use clorox bleach´┐Ż (I pour some on a rag and heavily put it on covering my nose and my eyes). I know this might not be the best way, but it works. It is gone within 2 days.
--"Chad" ([email protected]) submitted 25/Apr/2003

I'am one of those people who gets poison ivy by looking at it.The only way I can stop the rash is to use a watered down bleach solution at the very onset of a rash.Its not for the weak, but nothing else works for me and if I dont stop it right away I'll have to go to the E.R. for help..
--"Ryan Miller" ([email protected]) submitted 15/May/2003


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.

Water (Epson Salts)

I have never been allergic to poison ivy until last summer, but when I got it I had a terrible case. My entire arms were covered, greatly swollen and weeping profusely for at least two weeks. I found that soaking them in very hot water with a fair amount of salt-- I used epsom salts, both relieved the itch for hours and dried up the weeping almost instantly. Unfortunately I didn't come up with this idea until I was desperate after 2 weeks, but I was all better within 3 days. And this also reduced the swelling and discouraged infection.
--"Leigh Josey" (no email provided) submitted 23/Apr/2003


Tea Bath

Take a tea bath!!! Yes, it sounds weird, but I have a lousy case of poison ivy, and having tried many other "home remedies", I've found this one to be very effective. Use regular tea bags (not herbal), like Lipton or Chinese tea. It contains caffene which acts like an "external" steroid (I had to get an internal steroid prescription and antibiotics last summer when I got this nasty ivy) and the tanens (or tanins, not sure of spelling) in the tea help to extract and dry up the oozing and reduce redness. (Tanins are found in red wine too, but I wouldn't suggest soaking in a good cabernet). Use at least 20 bags. Just toss them into a running bath in the hottest water you can stand. The bath water turns a lovely shade of amber. Soak for 20 minutes or more. Don't rub, just soak. Then pat dry with towel. Then hit the bad/oozy spots with a hairdyer on high for as long as you can take it. Feels great and drys up the p.i. even more! I heard it helps reduce the chance of infec tion too. I've read about other people "scrubbing" to open the wounds and then soaking with rubbing alcohol, but I've found that any aggressive attack on the oozing areas just made things worse. Gentle but consistent treatment seems to work best. I also found Gold Bond powder to help for a quick, less messy fix while at work, and distilled white vinegar for inbetween cleanup of breakouts. Antihistamines are wonderful when the itching gets unbearable. If the p.i. causes lots of swelling, best to get a script for the good stuff ... antibiotics or whatever the doc recommends. Otherwise, these "cheap" rememdies seem to work just as well as over the counter choices. The old standby of caladry (calamine) lotion isn't a bad overnight soother!
--"Sharon" ([email protected]) submitted 29/Apr/2003