Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Information Center

From the Medicine Chest

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.

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Vitamin C

The best thing you can do to build your immune system up is LOTS of Vitamin C. I used to get poison ivy all the time. Then I started to take a GOOD vitamin C (mega doses) every time I was exposed.....I have not had poison ivy in at least 10 years!!
--([email protected]) submitted Jun/6/1999

Vitamin C has been a stand-by anti-allergy remedy for me since childhood. I get poison ivy pretty easily, and take 1-4 grams (1000-4000 mg) hourly to fight it. This stops the itching within ~20 minutes and dries up the blisters. At high enough doses Vitamin C seems to kill good as well as bad bacteria in the body, so I know I need to increase my dosage until I get gas or diarrhea -- then I eat a bowl of yogurt to replace the beneficial intestinal bacteria. Every body is different, so one person might need more or less than I take, but "megadoses" (1-10 grams) every few hours seems like a common range for people I've talked to with an infection or toxin. Vitamin C helps everything from colds to snake-bites to bee stings, and is water-soluable (i.e. won't build up in the body) so is never toxic. I'm always nervous to use synthetic remedies for fear of what side effects they'll discover in ten years, so the natural stuff is where I turn to first.
Adelle Davis also writes about Vitamin C for poison Ivy as well as Calcium, Pantothenic Acid, and topically VitaminE (p.137 "Let's Get Well").
--"Jeff Pettit" ([email protected]) submitted 23/Jul/2000

I'm back at this site because last time I visited I was in distress, but found no relief. Well, now I have great news. Vitamin C used topically will destroy the poison ivy. Indian Goosberry which is also called Amla, can be found in Chawanprash(an ayurvedic vitamin paste which can be found in Indian stores).Internally and extrenally. Gone in 4 hrs.
--"stefano rocchetti" ([email protected]) submitted 15/Sep/2001

Last year I found out about Zanfel from your site, and that helped me get over two horrendous bouts of poison oak that caused two visits to the emergency room and way too much prednisone that didn't really work that well.This year it started again on my face. I was reading a book called the Wrinkle Cure written by an m.d. Nicholas Perricone, that talked about treating aging and inflamed skin with ester-C oil, and alpha lipoic acid. (He does not specifically address poison oak, but talks about damaged skin's inability to keep out toxins... I did not order his products, but I saw products like that in a local grocery store and bought them to try. Here is what I am doing and I have cut my itching/healing time in half and my face looks just like normal after 6 days!1. Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water a day.2. Take vitamins and antioxidants. (I'm not always good at this one, in terms of taking them regularly). Take extra c and Omega 3 oils.3. Eat brightly colored fruits and vegetables as well as a lot of salmon. Stay away from white flour, sugar, and products that have a high glycemic index.4. Use topical applications of ester-C (vitamin c that has been mixed with palm oil to change the Ph) and alpha lipoic acid cream.I Still use Zanfel, but I like this idea better. Then for a way to prevent this in the first place, rub your cat down with a Baby Wipe when he comes in the house! He may not like it, but it cuts your chances of infection. I use them now when I touch my animals before I touch myself.thanks for your site. Its a real public service for those of us who try everything and still get poison oak.
--"Nancy Wells" ([email protected]) submitted 23/Mar/2002


Noxema Skin Pads

Thanks so much for your web site. Worked out in the yard this weekend and was very careful and mindful of the poison ivy. I put on Ivy Block before doing the yard work and washed off immediately after that. Unfortunately prior to that I had put my dog in an area loaded with the stuff and didn't notice. The next day I groomed him!! hugged him!!! and kissed him. I then noticed the rash on my arms, neck and face. Immediately started home treatment with lots of water and a Benadryl-type creme, but without much effect. Called the doctor Monday morning and asked for a Prednisone prescription (which worked great on a bad outbreak last year). I also washed the dog!! After starting the prescription I began to feel some relief, but the itching was merciless. After seeing your website yesterday, I went to the store and picked up as many of the items recommended by your readers as I could find. The BEST relief for me came with Noxzema skin pads (stings quite a bit but is preferable to being itchy) followed with Band-Aid Anti-Itch Gel (this used to be Rhuli) - a great product. Also took oral Benadryl Allergy pill. The relief was immediate and I slept through the night. Today, only day 4 of my outbreak, the oozy outbreaks and blisters are quickly drying up and the itching is manageable. I'm mailing in my order for Oral Ivy today so I can hopefully prevent this in the future and stop getting new outbreaks every time I hug my dog. In the meantime, I'm on the search for a dog shampoo to get the urushiol out of his fur; I found a natural product with tea tree oil and aloe vera, but will also try a tar shampoo. Hope this helps a fellow sufferer.
--"Tracy Costello" ([email protected]) submitted 23/May/2001

I know there are alot of people out there that suffer from poison ivy every year, I broke out with it from doing some yard work. Ive learned a trick to it though that may help some of you. I had tried everything I could think of as far as home remedies from bleach water to green tomatoes you name it, but one thing that works well is noxema pads, yep for zits. It absorbes oil from the skin to prevent achny so why not absorbe the poison ivy from you skin? It worked well for me and I hope that someone else will get this message and try it also, because I know how extremely miserable it can make you when you cant stop itching......
[email protected] submitted 9/Nov/2000


Rubbing Alcohol

I always have great luck by washing with rubbing alcohol. Get a small spray bottle (like Benedryl sore throat spray) and fill it with rubbing alcohol. It supposedly helps kill the poison. I've been using it for a couple of years and no poison ivy.
--([email protected]) submitted May/17/1999

Washing your exposed skin in lots of rubbing alcohol after you're finished playing in poison ivy for the day takes the urushiol oll out of your skin but don't use a washcloth to apply alcohol because it just picks up the urushiol oil and spreads it around. Also, never dab alcohol on during your hike or picnic, because it removes your protective skin oils and the expsure you get to the poison ivy around the next bend will be worse.
-- William L. Epstein, MD (chairman emeritus and professor of dermatolgy at the University of California, School of Medicine.

FOR REALLY, REALLY, REALLY BAD CASES Ever since I can remember I've had horrible cases of poison ivy. I'm talking eyes swollen shut and big gooey blisters EVERYWHERE! Even on my lips, ears, bottom of my feet, etc. I even had to bandage my feet and hands because the blisters in between my toes and fingers were like faucets. Okay, sorry about grossing you out now. Sometimes the rashes would last for 4-5 weeks.I looked at some of the advice and I look forward to trying it. But in my history with poison ivy I've tried a lot of stuff. I've had prescriptions, lotions, herbal crap... The only thing that ever worked for me was to scrape open my blisters and flood them with rubbing alcohol several times per day. I know it sounds harsh, but there isn't much else to do when it's hot out and you need to dry out a rash. Also it really isn't even close to as painful as poison ivy. After about a week of this the rashes are usually just about dead.
-- rkemp ([email protected]) submitted 7/May/2001
Editor: Ouch! Painful!

I am a life-long sufferer of poison ivy; the blisters "bloom" quickly and spread radidly. Through trials and many errors, what works best for me is to vigorously scrub the blisters with the hottest, soapiest water I can stand, breaking as many blisters as I can, and then swabbing it all down with rubbing alcohol. It burns like the dickens but they dry up within a few days and the alcohol also seems to stop the spread.
--"Jack Meyers" ([email protected]) submitted 28/May/2002

I hate poison ivy. This is one of the best helpful ideas I heard from an old carpender: if you know you have been into the bad bushes, wash any area contaminated with rubbing alcohol (a couple of times), and finish with soap and water. This has worked for me several times, as I have a reaction for sure if it touches me. Suffering now, in fact. Contracted it two weeks ago. I was working in the same area a couple of days ago, I came in and washed three times with alcohol. Nothing so far, but I am not out of the woods yet. Thanks for this site. It has kept me sane. The hot water trick I discovered here is a gem. Thanks Nancy g. Parisi
--"Nancy Parisi" ([email protected]) submitted 31/Mar/2003

My very first remedy is to strip down of all exposed clothing and put them in the wash right away so that I don't touch them after washing. Then I wash thoroughly with a rich lather,(sometimes 3 times completely,just in case) Then I dab or wipe the exposed areas or areas I might have touched with my hands with rubbing alcohol. Usually takes care of it. If I notice the first signs of the rash I scratch it open and pour the rubbing alcohol on it. Yes it burns a little buts its better than taking the itch to term. If all else fails and your are stuck trying to relieve the itch, use a hair dryer. It helps to dry it up a little but most of all it feels like a scratch that is oh so necessary.
--"Nathan Erb" ([email protected]) submitted 4/Apr/2003

I too have poison ivy given to me by my dog. Urishiol is not water soluable. Use Rubbing alcohol to dry the rash on your skin. Liquid dish soap to remove it from your pet and a product called Brush-Be-Gone to kill the plant. Goats also love to eat poison ivy,so you get a goat to do the work for you! I hope this helps....
--"Fred" (no email provided) submitted 25/Apr/2003


Anti perspirant

Anti-perspirant seems to dry up the boils from posion ivy
-- Dave (anonymous email address) submitted Jul/12/1999
Editor note: I am told that most deordorants contain an organically activated clay known as organoclay to hold the other ingredients in suspension; almost all antiperspirants have the clay plus aluminum chlorohydrate. Both of these substances have been found to be effective at neutralizing urushiol with slightly better results prior to exposure. However, these aluminum salts are highly irritating so don't spray any on your face or body folds.

Ban roll on, straight, no aloe, not fragant, plain Ban roll on will dry it up, but it takes a little time and is better than clorox.
--"Peggy" ([email protected]) submitted 22/Mar/2002

I've combine 2 cures into 1, and had success with it. Works best if the pi is in an area which allows you to easily cover it up. First, take some anti-persperant (scrape it off the bar with a Qtip or whatever.. Dont apply directly to the pi, or you might find your armpits broken out. (Duh)). Anyway, take the anti-persperant and apply to the spot. I usually apply with a Qtip. Then... Take a sterile pad (gauze pad) and dip in bleach. Apply the beach soaked pad onto the spot. Finally, cover this whole mess up with a big band-aid so it will all stay on. It will burn for a bit, but it isnt too bad. I recommend doing this at bedtime. I had the spots already significantly reduced within 12 hrs of applying this. The pi was totally gone within 50 or so hrs. I dunno if this helps itching or not, because I dont itch when I get pi, so I cant help anyone there.
--"Clint" ([email protected]) submitted 24/Aug/2002


Drying Agents

Calamine lotion leaves a powdery residue that absorbs the oozing, devlops a crust, and keeps it from sticking to your clothes. Others agents that are not as soothing as Calamine but can be just as effective are: Zinc oxide, witch hazel, Burow's solution (aluminum acetate), and baking soda are common topical drying agents.
-- Gary Tirlei (anonymous email address) submitted Jul/17/1999

Witch Hazel. Takes away the itch. Drys up the rash
-- Anonymous submitted 28/Jun/2002

I'm very allergic to poison ivy & got it just from raking a spot that had some branches with it on. I started using Calagel & calamine lotion , but the itch was still there & it also started to ooze. Went to CVS & talked to the phamacist there. He recommended using Benadryl allergy formula & Cortizone-10 cream. The results were that the next day, not only was the oozing stopped, but it was almost dried up. The itch had stopped, too. Great stuff to try.
-- Kasey ([email protected]) submitted 14/Apr/2001

I live on property in Western Oregon and enjoy it to its fullest. Well low and behold I inadvertently found some Posion Oak. I suffered through it for a week or so and one morning after waking up with the itch, I tried Witch Hazel in desperate attempt to alleviate the "Itch" With-in few minutes the itch was gone!!! With-in a few hours the inflamation caused by the oil was reduced by 50% or more!
--"Tim Sullivan" ([email protected]) submitted 11/Oct/2001

I've been using a product called Sea Breeze, a liquid astringent which contains alcohol, camphor, peppermint oil, clove oil andeucalptus oil, as well as a few other ingredients. For me it really relieves the itching, and I think the added oils help offset the alcohol removing skin oil. If this works for anyone else, let me know!
--"eric" ([email protected]) submitted 26/Feb/2002

I have read your column about poison ivy, and I have also read that sometimes people use Caladryl. I had poison ivy and went to my doctor and she said that Caladryl is bad because it can turn the poison ivy into an allergy. For fast results she recommended Prednisone (not sure on the spelling) is one of the best things out there.
--"Frank" ([email protected]) submitted 20/Mar/2002

I have had poison oak for 5-8 days now and im so tired of it! I live in California and I am 13 years old. It first started on my left leg, but I didn't know what it was! Then it spred to my other leg and my mom told me that it was poison oak. I started using hydrocortisone cream to help, and it didn't help too much. Then my mom took me to the Target and got some Aveeno bath and cream, Epsom salt, target brand anti-itch and pain lotion, and some cortisone cream. I used all of them. The Aveeno bath works well, but after about 2-4 hours you start to itch again. The Epsom salt bath helped dry it out, but didn't really help the itching. I used the target anti-itch lotion, and it helped pretty well, for about 2-5 hours. I usually have a luke warm bath with Aveeno bath and a little Epson salt, then dry myself with a towel, padding the places with it lightly, then put on the cortison cream. I try to wear light cloths, especially soft cotton ones, around and sometimes under my other cloths. I have found that the liquid that seeps from the wounds sticks to the cloth and makes the wounds look really disgusting. I have also found that it really helps to turn your water on as hot as you can take it and just wash your wounds with it! It helps stop the itching and doesn't spread! Make sure what you are not bathing in it, but simply spraying your poison ivy/oak with hot water. It really helps and feels like your scratching, but doesnt make it worse! Also try not to scratch any place! Even if its not were your poison ivy/oak is, it could be spreading. The more it heals, the uglier it gets! Soon after a wile, you will begin to see it drying. Its extremely ugly, but it is healing! Thank you for your site! I have learned alot! I hope this helps! -Jenna Sol ([email protected])
--"Jenna Sol" ([email protected]) submitted 27/Mar/2002


Baking Soda + Gold Bond Medication

After two bouts with poision in 2 months and feeling like riping the s kin off my body, I found Gold Bond creme and it does really help take away the i tching. I tried the hot showers. That works for the short term. Tried Doctor perscription of Betaderm .1%, helps rash not itch. Calmine lotion mixed with ba king soda works a bit. Gold Bond is the best.
-- Anonymous ([email protected]) submitted 22/Aug/2000

Hello. My family has a very high sensitivity to poison ivy. I have tried almost everything to get rid of this and nothing seems to be working. I am 15 years old and I simply cannot live with poison ivy spreading all over my face, ears, lips, legs, thighs, arms, sholders and even underarms. I am itch terribly, and I like to take hot showers as it adds to the relief of the itching. At the moment I am taking Goldbond to help with the itch, Benadryl cream that helps with the itch on my legs but not on my face, and I am putt ing Calamine liquid on my face, but that is rather messy. Now I am taking antihiistamine pills that also don't seem to be helping my face any. If anyone has a remidie that really works, please e-mail me. Any advice would be well welcomed. Thank you
--"D. Mason" ([email protected]) submitted 3/Jul/2001

Gold bond medication dapped onto the infected area with a coating of baking soda with help the itch and the baking soda pulls the puss out of the infection. This is also good for bee stings and other insect bites.
-- Kay From Ohio ([email protected]) submitted Jun/10/2000

I never knew I was sensitive to poison ivy until two years ago when I moved to Louisiana. The first time I had it was a nightmare. I didn't sleep for two whole weeks, because I couldn't stop sratching. The treatment my doctor gave me was a steriod taken orally and some extra stregth hydrocortisone cream. I also took Benedryl tablets 3 times a day and that seemed to help. The best way to reduce the itching was by taking a warm bath with baking soda and cornstarch. I added one of the small boxes of baking soda and 1 1/2 cups of cornstarch to the water, and then soaked for 1/2 an hour. This helped relieve the itching for several hours. I learned that the most important thing to remember is that when the initial rash develops whatever you do, don't scratch. Scratching causes the blisters to ooze and will spread the rash. Whenever I feel the urge to scratch I apply more hydrocortisone. It takes an enormous amount of willpower, but the end result is a localized rash that is gone in 3 weeks as opposed to an overall body rash that takes 2 months to go away.
--"jennifer" (no email provided) submitted 25/Mar/2002

I am currently battling spring poision ivy and have found that of OTC ointments, Gold Bond Anti itch cream works better than any of the others all of which I have on hand. Does not contain steroids.
--"Frederick Wanegar" ([email protected]) submitted 5/May/2003

I am 24 years old now but when i was 14 years old I had a severe case of poision ivy. Calamine Lotion and Aveeno Lotion were used to try to clear the problem but they did not help. One day my mom suggested Gold Bond powder so we tried it. Within 2 to 3 days of using the Gold Bond powder my Poison Ivy went away nothing works better. I had it so severe it was in my eyes and they would swell shut at night while I slept. I strongly recommend Gold Bond powder.
--"Jennifer" ([email protected]) submitted 09/Aug/2003


Hair Dryer

We purchased 5 acres and found tons of poison oak when clearing trees and brush for a road. My husband got it every time we worked, and I started getting it after several exposures. We have found a unique and effective treatment for the itch. A hair dryer. We blow dry the affected area until it is as hot as we can stand. This stimulates the nerves like scratching without the damage that scratching causes. And for some reason, the itching goes away for hours. I don't know why, but it is cheap, easy, safe and effective.

Since prevention is the best cure there are precautions we have found that are helpful (but never completely effective). There is IVY BLOCK which is a lotion that helps block the poison from attaching to the skin. We put this on before we work. There is also and IVY WASH (called TECHNU) that is suppose to chemically bond with the oils so they can be washed off the skin. We use both. And it helps. But when those rashes show up, NOTHING beats my hair dryer.
-- Lorna Stockett Jan/11/2000

I just would like to add my voice to the "hair dryer" method of relieving the unbearable itch of poison ivy. I picked up a horrible case of it in my early 20's, and relieved it by running the dryer on "hot" over it just for a few second until I'd reached my tolerance level (the sensation is just as much of a relief as scratching). 20 years later I'm fighting a severe case of poison ivy with the same method and same welcome results. No itch and no spreading. I have no itch, and apart from some scablike crusting there is no side effect.
-- H.Mowat ([email protected]) submitted 28/Jul/2000

The most effective treatment I have found for the itching associated with p= oison oak is the hair dryer. Apparently, the heat releases the histamines = which are responsible for the itching. Whatever the reason, I had an almos= t itch free sleep after using this remedy. My next step is to try Zanfel.
--Jennie Fairchild (anonymous email) submitted 2/Aug/2000

Use the blow dryer method. It feels like a thousand fingers and you don't have to put all that junk on your body. Not to mention the fact it feels wonderful.
--"Gumbs" ([email protected]) submitted 3/Jul/2002

I tried the hot water treatment which really worked great but even better was the blow drier (on high) that I use on my hair. I had the ivy on my neck and noticed that when I moved the blow dryer over it, the itch was really intense. I kept the blow dryer on the area and it felt like my skin wanted to crawl off my neck. After a few minutes, the itching subsided and the area did not itch for about 8 hours after that. I used it on my arms, legs and back (no I didn't roll in it) - boy it was great !!! It can get really hot and burn if you leave it on one spot to long so be careful.
--"Greg Rubenstein" ([email protected]) submitted 30/Aug/2002

Instead of hot water use a hair dryer. After my poison ivy blisters I scrub it with soap and hot water until all the blisters are broke open, dry off, then rub down with alcohol. This is not for the weak hearted, because it stings like hell. The results is that the resh goes away within a day or two.
--"Mike Alberg" ([email protected]) submitted 30/Aug/2002

Blow dryer all the way. Im currently battling a nasty case. Blow drying is an amazing and relieving method. Almost fun. Get it as hot as you can
--"ted" ([email protected]) submitted 5/Dec/2002

I used the hair dryer and wd-40 methods. They worked good however I would advise against using them when you have open blisters or they have started to drain, I say that now. I kept the hair dryer on as long as I could stand it and now have burns on my leg. I am thinking that duct tape should cure this somehow, I don't want to get it again to find out, twice is enough.
--"Geoffrey Ristau" ([email protected]) submitted 10/Jun/2003

As a kid poison ivy was a pain in the butt to have but never turned into something as intense as it did now that I'm an adult. What started as a typical spot of bumps ended up on my arms and legs as rashes and burn like marks such as those when a jellyfish stings you. The itch was immense. I turned to the typical remedies mentioned on this webpage and tried all the topicals with no luck; in fact, it seemed to get worse as I tested each one. The remedy of scalding myself in hot water was a good idea for the itch but not for the healing process since it dealt with moisture. When I read the trick of using a blow dryer I thought, "Why not?". I have to tell anyone reading this that along with Benedryl capsules or pills which does work when you take it like your supposed to, the blow dryer was the best. Yes, the heat over the itchy parts makes you want to scratch it even more but by waving the dryer back and forth the air almost scratches it for you while the heat continues to sink deeper into the tissues. It may sound insane to anyone who's never tried this idea but 2-3 times a day really stopped the itch for many, many hours and even dried up the rashes. Thanks to all of you for your ideas and suggestions and especially to those who thought of the blow dryer. Just to let you know, the pictures on this site are incredible and I know how you all feel. My horrible time with this ivy mess lasted a couple of weeks and included non-movement or at least no physical activity to irritate it further. Once I used the blow dryer, it seemed to go away in three days. Good luck to all of you and my sincere prayers are with you to heal quickly.
--"Cire Frodnew" ([email protected]) submitted 10/Jun/2003

I agree that the hair dryer method is THE BEST. I have had many many bouts with the ivy and a couple years ago I finally figured out that the air from the hair dryer will "itch" the rash, and the heat will bring out all the histamines. I currently have the worst case I've had in 20 years and I blow the dryer on the rash on the back of my neck, waving the air back and forth, until I feel a strong itchy/stingy sensation that feels great. After that, I don't itch for up to 10 hours. I do it after a shower in the morning and again before bed, and anytime I feel itchy during the day. I have also put bleach on a cotton swab in the past and put it on newly forming blisters and rash areas which normally dries it up fast, but I don't find that is as effective with large clusters of blisters that have been around for a while
--"Marlee" submitted 04/Aug/2003

Using the hair dryer to stop the itching was a MAJOR LIFESAVER for me. I got immediate relief from the itching and it dried out the wounds as well. I don't know why it works but I will tell everyone that it worked for me...thanks SO MUCH for all who shared that tip.
--"Greg" ([email protected]) submitted 09/Aug/2003


Gewvol Mint Foot Cream

As a "victim" of Poison Ivy for years, I have tried everything to ease the itcy and pain caused by the "devil plant"! Finally found an anti-itch remedy in an unusaul form. I am an Aesthetician and in a frantic moment of itchyness...grabbed the first thing availble and slathered it on. In only a few minutes I felt relief that lasted longer than anything else. It was Gewvol Mint foot cream. It contains essential oils of mountain pine, rosemary, lavender and mint and has a lovely cooling effect, that I use for massaging the feet after a pedicure. While it clears the sinuses of anyone close to you it does work immediately.
What I want to know is there any prevention besides avoiding it which is difficult when you own a Doberman who love to go hiking? Please give me insight on this as I cannot stand the thought of another season of torture.
-- Kim ([email protected]) May/25/2000


Pine Tar Soap

I grew up in Europe and we don't have poison ivy there! We do have stinging nettle and also another weed that grows near by that will take away the itching. Similar to the article you had about the Native American Indians and their "antidote" to poison ivy. Anyway, when we cleaned our overgrown back yard there was poison ivy in there. Both my husband and I got some red spots on our arms. One of my neighbors recommended "Grandpa's Pine Tar Soap", found in a Health store. I heavily lathered the affected areas with this soap. It seemed to dry up all those tiny blisters. A few more applications and the whole thing cleared up. Now whenever I get some poison ivy on my arms I wash immediately with the Pine tar soap. I might have to repeat that a couple of times but that all it takes. If you don't know how to find this soap, here is the web site the box had printed on it www.grandpabrands.com It also contains other people's testimonials.
-- Anonymous Jan/15/2000
Editor note: Can anyone collaborate this. It is very rare that you don't at least get a name or email when someone recommends their remedy; but to get a commercial URL in addition to this worries me. Just being paranoid today I guess.

I read your poison ivy cures and when I read about pine tar soap I fel t really dumb. I have used pine tar shampoo and cream for a systemic rash cause d by medication to gain relief from the terrible itch it caused. I just didn't think of it for poison ivy. Pine tar is a very old cure and I get it at dog shows. It is very good for animals with skin problems. It is good for people too and since dogs skin is more sensitive than people skin it is ok to use their products without worry.
-- Rose ([email protected]) May/16/2000


Retin A

Someone at work has mentioned rubbing Retin A on the blisters. Has anyone else used this treatment with any success?Is it wise to break the blisters or to protect them from weeping?
--Cullinan ([email protected]) submitted Mar/25/2000

Retin-A tried it b/c seemed logical and is prescription so stronger than the pink stuff seems to be working really well containing it burns a little but is better than itching.
--Rose submitted 16/Apr/2001



I had my first reaction to poison ivy last summer while clearing a ditch. This is what I have discovered to really kill the plant, and the symptoms that make your life miserable. To kill the plant I used RoundUp grass and weed killer. It comes pre-mixed and is extremely effective, but it kills everything around the poison ivy (even your wife's flowers). While nearing insanity I ran out of Benedryl 1%, that is when I discovered your website. This is my ritual after discovering the translucent "bubble" on my skin:

1) Wash the area with Palmolive and lukewarm water
2) Soak the area in warm, bleach-water
3) Spray the area with Tinactin

Yes, that's right. BOOM! Tough Actin' Tinactin. I was going through my medicine cabinet and the label appealed to me. Stop the burning, Control the itch...Perfect. The most surprising part of the story is not that my wife thought I was completely insane, but the athlete's foot spray worked. The skin irritation dried up within 24 hours.
-- Travis England ([email protected]) submitted Jun/25/2000

I ran across this website last year after battling poison ivy for several months. The only remedy that worked for me is taking a cool shower using a dish washing detergent like Dawn or Joy, followed with spraying the infected areas with Tinactin spray. It's quick and effective, however, do not spray Tinactin on neck or face.
--"Kathy" ([email protected]) submitted 30/Dec/2002



I end up getting poison ivy every year, and one summer someone told me to put iodine on it. My mom had a bottle of iodides tincture (it was a clear liquid) so I tired it, and it dries the rash up right away. If you apply it when the rash just starts to break out, it will keep the blisters from getting any bigger, therefore preventing all the ichiness and oozing. I just broke out with a rash again a couple days ago, so I went out and bought a bottle of iodine (this one wasn't clear unfortunately),and after just one application I haven't had any more iching and the blisters haven't gotten any bigger. Give it try and let me know if it works for you too. Good Luck!
-- Leslie ([email protected]) submitted May/1/2000

Until I was 17 I got bad poison ivy several times each summer. Nothing worked except scratching the blisters open and painting with iodine. When I was 17 I got the shot for it, didn't have it until this year (I'm 56).
--"Leroy Tupper" ([email protected]) submitted 18/Jul/2001


Salicylic Acid

The best thing I have found to treat a poison ivy outbreak is the 2% salicyclic acid preparations, sometimes known as "pore minimizers", found in the acne care display in drugstores and groceries. This gel type product reduces the itching, stops the oozing, and stops the spreading better than anything else I have ever tried, and I've tried them all. It's easy to carry along, and is colorless, but can have makeup over it, after it dries. Nancy Shugrue
--Richard Shugrue ([email protected]) submitted 09/Jul/2000 Have a bad case now, reading your site actually took my mind off it for awhile. Just tried the hot water treatment...blissful. Saw the post for the acne pore reducer using 2% Salicylic Acid. Didn't have any and its the midle of the night but I did find a bottle of Dermarest Psoriasis Shampoo that is 3% Salicylic Acid. Used it on my right hand and arm & 2.5% Hydrocortisone Cream on the left. Neither itches at the moment (due to hot water) but will advise you of the results of this experiment.
--"R. ADKINS" ([email protected]) submitted 30/Oct/2002


Monistat 7

This is may be just for the women who sufer from poison ivy. I have fo und that grabbing that tube of monistat 7 keeps me from itching and burning until I can see the doctor or get some other such remedy. If you think about it monistat works wonders on so called itchy rashes!
--Kelly ([email protected]) submitted 12/Oct/2000


Pepcid AC

I get shots every year for Poison Ivy. One thing I found that stops my itching is taking two Pepcid AC's every 12 hours. I have no idea why it stops my itching but it really works. It's kinda expensive but I get allover rashes and it really helps me during the day and when I sleep. I've recommended this to others as well and they have had very good results, also.
--Noe Barrera ([email protected]) submitted 30/Jun/2000


Asprin / Nail Polish Remover

I have found a good way to get rid of poison ivy rash for good, what you do is crush up asprin tablets and mix it with acetone (nail polish remover) untill it turns into a paste, it dries up the oozing within a couple of days and the asparin eases the itching.
--"Barney Fekete" ([email protected]) submitted 7/Jul/2001

I've found the quickest (and most painful) cure is to take a really hot shower and scrub the rash with a wash cloth to get it nice and oozy. Then just pour some fingernail polish remover over it and grit your teeth for a few moments. Voila, all gone. **Note** I don't recommend doing this over a large area all at once. It might make you pass out.
--Joe ([email protected]) submitted 14/Jun/2001
Editor: Ouch!



In despiration to stop the itching of my poison sumac, I resorted to a hemorrhoid creme (Tronolane) as I had nothing else on hand. It seems to have worked quite well. It reduces itching and swelling and seems to have spead up the drying process. If you think about it, it makes sense. My wife thought it was hysterical. The active ingredient is Pramoxine Hydrochloride, 1%.
--Tim Allinson ([email protected]) submitted 27/May/2001


Epsom Salt

I am one of those super illergic people so I figured out a trick that works for me. I find putting epsom salt on it and rubbing it in on the rash and then rinsing it off with really hot water makes it dry up really quick.
--"Matt" ([email protected]) submitted 23/Aug/2001

I've been stricten with the poison ivy allergy my entire life. I'd get it at least once a year. The past few years I've been lucky not to get the terrible rash, and hoped I may have finally outgrown my allery, wrong! My symptoms have always been extreme, blisters the size of grape halves and excruciating itching. The old Epsom salt remedy is one of the best, simply soaking in the tub in 2-3 cups of the stuff works great. Also gauze soaked in a high concentration and wrapped around a severe area will control any oozing and make the day a little easier. Unfortunately it is only truly effective on the limbs. The only other true miracle cure is a trip to the beach. The best remedy? Know what the plant looks like, look for it on any entry into grassy or wooded areas, and avoid at all costs!
--"shawn" ([email protected]) submitted 4/Sep/2001



I'm highly allergic to poison ivy, poison sumac and poison oak. I've tried calamine lotion, bleach, and even gasoline. The most effective and least harmful treatment for me seems to be a combination of Acnomel, an acne medication, and vitamins c and e. Keep all areas of the rash covered with the Acnomel at all times until the itching is gone and there are no more blisters. It really speeds up the entire process. Take at least 3,000 to 4,000 milligrams of vitamin c split up throughout the day as an antihistamine to ease the itching. Taking 400 to 800 IU's of vitamin e helps, too. Zyrtec or Claritin can also be used as an antihistamine.
--"Korky" ([email protected]) submitted 24/Aug/2001



was immune--- guess not. I had some success with Zanfel. Not the one application miracle that some described, but two or three applications got all the itching out. Unfortunately, I kept rolling out new lesions that were hard to keep up with. While still struggling with the itching, I did take Benadryl. Benadryl takes the edge off the itching, but makes me so drowsy. A friend recommended Zantac. Note that Benadryl is an h1 inhibitor, Zantac is an h-2 inhibitor. More similar than it might at first seem. Zantac did seem to help take the edge off the itching. I saw that someone else on the site mentioned Pepcid ac. I think that this is the same principle. Zantac, Tagamet, etc. are all h2 inhibitors. Thanks for the site. Jc
--"Chevalier, Judy" ([email protected]) submitted 19/Sep/2002



A product called Tiger Balm is wonderful for cooling the itch of poison oak. I keep getting poison oak over & over on my forearms and wrists because I hike every day. I also think the hot water treatment is excellent for making the itch stop for hours.
--"Mary" ([email protected]) submitted 13/May/2002
Editor: Appears to contain camphor, clove and menthol. More information can be found here.

I recently contracted poison ivy for the first time, as a child I seemed to never aquire symptoms even though I'm sure we rolled around the stuff in the woods. I read a few articles that said to use heat to take away the itching and a few that said to use cold as a treatment, so I came to the conclusion that something with both qualities might work. I used a topical solution of tiger balm (a muscle ointment similar to bengay, but not the one in the jar, the one in the tube,,, like aspercream) It seemed to take away the itch and has a pleasant smell. I'm not sure if any doctors recommend this treatment, but I do. Stacy Meunier
[email protected] submitted 30/Sep/2002



Please move Domeboro up on yourlist of relief products for Poisin Ivy....it does work, is largely a forgotten product. I think it was used for some sexually transmitted disease rashes in WWII and that's why it still has the "behind the counter" status. Big chain pharmacies don't seem to carry it, but tiny ones do...thank god! Anyway, it doesn't irritate the skin, soothes the itch and generally really works! The little packets say that it is a Bayer product like good old Bayer Aspirin.

Also Aspirin PM has enough antihistamine to help one with poisin ivy sleep through the night. Directions say 2 capsules, but one is more than enough for normal BMI weight people.
-- Carol Starks ([email protected]) submitted Jul/14/2002
Editor: I need to reorganize the entire section. I will see what I can do.

I recently came in contact with this nasty poison again. Within 24 hours of contact, I was a mess from the knees down. I immediately began taking 20 mg of Prednison 3x daily. Additionally, my sister had a son that was very allergic. She recommended Domeboro Solution. I had a hard time finding it though. Finally, a small town pharmacy did have it. It is over the counter, but the pharmacist keeps it behind the counter for some reason. This is an astringent type powder which is Ph balanced. You mix it with water and apply a compress. I used two packets with 16 oz water, as hot as I could stand. I was amazed at the results. I kept rewetting my compress, as directed for about an hour. By the next morning, the rash was dry and no more itching!! This is really remarkable.
-- Gail ([email protected]) submitted Jun/28/2000

I saw the recommendation for Domoboro. Several years ago I had poison ivy, as did a Navy Corpsman friend of mine. She helped me in my yard, now that's a friend. We found Domoboro on the shelf in her pharmacy and after reading the lable decided to give it a try. After benedryl, calamine and a bunch of other stuff, the domoboro worked. If I could just find it again... I got PI again after helping another friend in her yard.......
Elizabeth Marker ([email protected]) submitted 7/Jul/2000
I am very allergic to poisen ivy and oak. Last fall I experienced an Outbreak and was told by a co-worker to try a product by Bayer called Domeboro I have been using it ever since and I will testify that It reduces the irritation from 3 weeks down to about 4-7 days!!!!!
I've been amazed how effective it works. I've used both the tablet and Powder Types as a soak and the powder as a poultise. Suzanne Marrs, m.s., Ed.D. Id & Prof.
--"Suzanne Marrs" ([email protected]) submitted 25/Jun/2002

Dear sir, I had poison ivy so bad once that the burning and itching actually made me nauseated and nothing seem to work...until I found Domobero.......what a relief. You can get if over the counter at the drug store. Mix as instructed on package with water and apply to the affected areas. It stopped the itching and dried up the blisters. Hope this will help some of the readers out there. Sincerely, Aliza
--"Ruiz, Aliza" ([email protected]) submitted 21/Aug/2002

I read in your articles people having a hard time finding Domebora. Having just experienced a bad does of posion ivy, I noticed Domeboro was easily available in the first aid section of Rite Aid and cvs pharmacies. It is expensive, $13 to $15 depending upon the store. I tried Ivarest on this past dose along with shots and pills from my doctor. I believe next time I may try Domebora.
--"bill harper" ([email protected]) submitted 21/May/2003



For reasons too complicated to explain here, I get poison ivy a lot, especially this time of year. Recently, while using Bactine to treat a cut on my dog's foot, for the hell of it, I tried the Bactine on a nascent poison ivy rash on the back of my hand. Worked like a charm. Bactine knocked down the itch instantly, and, with regular application, Bactine prevented the swelling and nasty rash I usually get. Instead of three weeks, all signs of poisoning disappeared in eight days...Bernard Switalski End...
[email protected] submitted 15/Jun/2002


Foot Powder

I recently joined the ranks of poison oak sufferers, having moved from the arrid southwest to the lush pacific northwest has put me at a greater risk for exposure, and at 53 I find out I'm allergic too. Well I'm coping much as the next person does. But I discovered something not yet on your list, it works well on the pustules once they are opened, and seems to aid in the drying process as well. The product I'm using is Dr. Scholl's Original foot powder, it contains Talc, Salicylic Acid,and Methyl Salicylate. It stops the itch as well.
--"Grady Pickens " ([email protected]) submitted 12/Jul/2002


Milk of Magnesia

I did not see this treatment amongst the remedies I read and I have used it for several years. Fortunately I think I am outgrowing the stuff. Apply repeated layers of Phillip's Milk of Magnesia, one on top of the other, you will know when to add another layer. It gives instant relief from the itching and almost immediately begins to dry it up. For the new mothers out there-use it on diaper rash.
--"Wayne Loney" ([email protected]) submitted 28/Sep/2002



When my son had a terrible viral infection, his dirreah tore his little bottom up. My doctor said to use Maalox & I thought she was crazy but it worked. Now having poison ivy everywhere, I went under the sink in search of anything. Guess what? Maalox does the trick!!. It dries it up & no itching.
[email protected] submitted 15/Oct/2002


Vitamin E Cream

Currently having poison ivy over 60% of my body, plus an allergic reaction (rash) to Sporanox (an oral medication used to treat athlete's foot) over 99% of my body, I'm recommomending the following: hot baths with 2-4 cups baking soda, hot baths in black caffinated tea - 6-10 tea bags. Black tea soothes my husband's eyes during allergy season. It worked for soothing my athlete's foot, so I tried it for the rashes and it provided about 2 hours of relief. Not long I know, but the baking soda worked as long too, plus left my skin really soft. I'll be trying Aveeno baths too very soon. Maximum Strenth Lanacane (yellow and blue tube) is working well, as is Gold Bond medicated cream. (I'm trying an experiement, one kind on each side, and both seem to be doing well, though the Lancane *stinks* and the Gold Bond has a nice tingle from the menthol in it.) I can't stress enough what another person posted (and which promted me to seek medical attention) - if you have poison ivy over a large part of your body and nothing seems to be working - *go see a doctor.* Not only was/is my poison ivy bad - inflammed, bruised from scratching so much, and keeping me awake all night - but the rash I thought was a second bout of p.i., 'caused perhaps by contaminated shoes, turned out to be an allergic reaction to medication. The extreme tiredness and loss of from yard work and over the years the symptoms became more and more severe. I get a rash that starts on my face, with itchy eyes, and back of the neck. This year, by chance and out of desperation, I reached for some Vitamin e cream that I'd gotten at Sam's Wholesale Club. It's a brand called Gene's Vitamin e cream. It also has collagen and Vit. A and d., and comes in a large tub type container for $6. The quantity lasts almost forever, so is very economical. All other attempts at using cream only made the rash worse, for me. It took only 5 minutes for the cream to return my firey red rash to normal skin color and totally alleviate the itching. I was incredibly amazed!!! Nothing else has worked so effectively for me. After a shower I would have to reapply the cream, but generally one application lasted between showers. It did not keep the rash from spreading, but alleviated all the discomfort associated with it and minimized the size of the rash in a better way than anything else I'd tried. Mostly I'd used IvaRest which had worked fairly successfully for a couple of years. My problem is the rash would end up spreading to my arms, torso, neck and thighs. This seems contrary to your findings, but has been consistent with my experience. My face would swell up terribly as well. IvaRest is not supposed to be used on large portions of the body. Vitamin e cream should cause no harm. I've only tried the brand mentioned, but presume others would be of similar help. The rash had its normal life of about a week, but I had no itching and thus the residual rash had much less healing to do. Someone mentioned Sarna, which I've used. It gave me a little relief, but IvaRest was better. Vitamin e cream is the best I've found. Another symptom I sometimes get has been described by many on your site as being a dark spot on a raised welt/rash. I have not tried Vit. E cream on that...yet. I've also found that soaps with perfume in them aggravate the rash more. Vitamin e oil and cream is very good for making scars disappear too! I'm including this note to a couple of people on your http://poisonivy.aesir.com/help.html page that seemed to have severe problems. I hope this discovery can help others, as I know how miserable the rash can be.
--"" ([email protected]) submitted 3/Nov/2002


Hair Spray

While growing up I had break outs of ivy rashes so bad that they wanted to put me in the hospital on several occasions. No matter what, nothing helped me until one day someone told my mom to spray really cheap hairspray all over the rash and keep applying it for 2 or 3 days without washing it off. This stopped the itching and dried up the rash to boot and nothing else has ever worked for me and believe me, I've tried it all. The most effective brand I've found is Aqua Net because it seems to have the highest laquer content. Possibly the thick laquer cuts off the air to the blisters and causes the drying, I'm not sure. All I know is that it works!!! Try it!! --Nina Finnell
--"Nina" ([email protected]) submitted 18/Feb/2003


Glycerin and Rubbing Alcohol

After suffering with my first bout of poison ivy (and I hope the last) I was frantically searching the internet for any and all ideas to relieve the itching rash. I tried quite a few, but wasn't very impressed with any. After a visit to the allergist for a second round of prednisone he gave me the recipe for a quick and inexpensive way to stop that itch: 1 part glycerin to 9 parts rubbing alcohol and apply mixture with a cotton ball (glycerin is available in a 4 oz. Bottle at any pharmacy). I tried it and was dancing with joy! It works immediately, without a 20-minute soak, rub down, etc. The rubbing alcohol stops the itch and dries up the rash, while the glycerin protects and helps heal the skin. After using so many other products my skin was extremely irritated not only due to the rash, but the products themselves. This was a tremendous relief, very fast and effective and I definitely recommend it. Good luck!
--"Brenda Bingham" ([email protected]) submitted 9/Apr/2003


Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen Peroxide and a Q-tip. Then I poured some into the cap and put it on the infected area, making bubbles of it on the surface. It sometimes burns when the skin is broken, and it foams, too, but it feels good and stops the itching for a while.
--"tlane" ([email protected]) submitted 26/Apr/2003


Oatmeal Mask

I became exposed to Poison Sumac. I just moved to this new home and was clearing my compost pile area and noticed stick type shrubs all over with no leaves out yet because it was still early spring. I came down with blisters and it took weeks to find out what I had, until I counted the leaves when they sprouted with flower clusters to see if it was poison sumac, so I found your website which now identified what I had. I used Mary Kay oatmeal mask for my blisters and it helped stop the itch. It turned my hand light green but people would have noticed calimine lotion and I had poison. Green color sure fooled them. I was going to get some calimine lotion after I used the facial mask and it worked just as good, so I didn't bother getting it. One of the problems I had was thinking I had poison ivy from some "vines" I pulled earlier, so I kept cutting and trimming the stick shrubs not knowing what it was so I kept getting it for a while. I noticed now there are root runners with small bushy sumac plants growing. I will use Roundup for these, but the sumac are tree like, and needs to be sawed down. Thanks for the identification!
--"Donna Harrison" ([email protected]) submitted 12/May/2003



Yesterday I sent feedback about taking Ibuprofen to help control outbreak of poison ivy. When I get Poison ivy it is always uncontrolable and unbearable. I have found that starting a regime of taking one ibuprofen every four when I first notice an out break of poison ivy will enable me to prevent out break of skin blisters and in about 3 days (after I have broken out in all the usual places I get poison ivy) My skin will rapidly respond to otc pi treatments. Without the Ibuprofen in three days after an outbreak I will have pi blisters in many locations and will have great difficulty in healing the pi outbreak. I wish you would get this information out. I know the agony of other pi suffers. I believe that this information could help others. I wash with tecnu and use calydryl but without the ibuprofen these do not stop the spreading. The ibuprofen is the key for me to gain control of the pi. Ibuprofen is a non steroid anti-inflamatory drug, and for me it helps control the inflamation of pi.
[email protected] submitted 26/May/2003


Preparation H

I used Preparation H out of desparation. It reduces swelling and itching. It worked to relieve the symptoms. I still had to follow the 7 days in and 7 days out for the rash to completely clear.
--T. Slavick [email protected] submitted 04/Aug/2003