Poison ivy rash occurs when the plant toxin urushiol, one of the deadliest natural poisons on the planet, comes into contact with human skin. This is one of the few true emergencies in dermatolgy says William L. Epstein, MD. Get to a hospital as soon as possible.
This toxin is in the leaves, stems and roots of poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. If you do develop a poison ivy rash, expect it to take one to three weeks to clear up. The itching can drive a person absolutely mad.
Other common symptoms include blisters and pain, and occasionally there may be intense burning, inflammation, and fever. You must try hard not to itch the rash as it can irritate the reacting skin and potentially lead to infection.
You can’t get poison ivy from another person unless you’ve touched urushiol that’s still on that person or his or her clothing.
Home Remedies to Treat Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac
White Vinegar has been shown to be an effective poison ivy home remedy. A cold vinegar compress will dry out the rash as well as reduce itching.
- Mix one-half cup of white vinegar with one and one-half cups of water. Chill the solution in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
- Moisten a brown paper in the solution and press it onto the affected skin area for two minutes. Wait a few minutes and then repeat.
- Do this for several minutes once daily for a week or two.
Baking soda has anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce the itching and inflammation associated with poison ivy.
- Mix three teaspoons of baking soda with enough water to make a paste.
- Apply the paste to the rash and allow it to dry.
- Rinse with cold water. Do this three times daily.
The banana peel contains cooling qualities and could provide itch relief.
- Rub the inside of the peel on the affected area.
- Repeat the process two or three times a day.
Note: You may need prescription medication for a rash that’s severe or widespread — especially if it’s on your face or genitals.