The poison ivy plant contains urushiol, an oily organic compound with allergenic properties. When urushiol comes into contact with the skin, it causes irritation, painful blisters, burning sensations, and overwhelming itchiness. These symptoms can develop within a few hours after exposure, or as long as a few days. Luckily, there are many natural remedies for poison ivy.
Baking soda is a miracle worker that most people have in their kitchens. It can help relieve the itchiness and irritation associated with the rash and soothe inflamed skin. Simply pour half a cup of baking soda into a warm bath. Alternately, a paste made from three teaspoons of baking soda mixed with one teaspoon of water has a similar effect.
Jewelweed or Impatiens capensis is a small, annual plant that grows in shaded areas, often in close proximity to poison ivy. Crushing the leaves and stems of the jewelweed plant will release juices that can soothe skin irritated by urushiol. If you live by poison ivy, you can grow your own jewelweed in the shady corner of a garden to combat rashes from poison ivy, eczema, and other skin ailments. It is also a good idea to learn to identify this plant if you often hike in areas where both are prevalent.
Aloe vera gel is known for its soothing effect on burns and rashes. The plant is easy to grow at home, though gels are available in the skincare sections of most stores, as well. Crack open a leaf to extract the gel-like flesh and spread it over the poison ivy rash. Chilling the gel first can offer even more relief.
Goldenseal can help treat many skin disorders. Benefit from its anti-inflammatory properties by mixing one teaspoon of powdered goldenseal root in a small amount of hot water to make a paste. Using a cotton ball, rub the concoction on the poison ivy rash to relieve itchiness and lower the chance of infection. Drinking goldenseal tea or taking supplements might also help accelerate the healing process from the inside out.
Mix half a cup of apple cider vinegar with half a cup of cold water and apply the mixture to the infected area to soothe the skin. Adding ACV to bathwater can also offer relief. The acidic vinegar creates a toxin-pulling action that pushes the poison from the pores to the surface. Be sure there are no open areas of skin, as ACV may cause burning to those sensitive areas.
Oatmeal is an ideal at-home remedy for poison ivy rash. Rather than paying for expensive creams with oatmeal extracts, make your own treatment with an inexpensive pantry staple. Tie a cup of oatmeal inside some muslin or cheesecloth and place it in a bowl of water to soak. Squeeze out the resulting "oat milk" and wash the poison ivy rash with the liquid. The soaked oats also make a soothing poultice.
Putting thin cucumber slices over your eyes is more than a fancy spa trick. Not only do they cool and plump the skin, but they are also capable of relieving sunburn and poison ivy rash. Banana peels can also be used to soothe irritated skin.
This home remedy is unique in that the rind, rather than the fruit, is used to benefit the poison ivy rash. Instead of disposing of the rinds after eating the watermelon, place pieces on the rash. Though the cool pulp may feel soothing, it is the phytochemicals in the rind that ease skin inflammation.
Another herbal remedy for poison ivy is the extract distilled from the leaves and bark of Hamamelis virginiana or witch hazel. Apply the liquid directly to the rash to reduce inflammation and itching. With its astringent and cooling properties, witch hazel can help heal blisters, too. This tried-and-true natural remedy is also safe for children.
Salt can reduce the red wetness that can develop on the skin after it comes into contact with poison ivy. It will naturally dry the skin and draw toxins and excess water away from the body. Himalayan or pink rock salt is mined for its rich minerals that offer anti-histaminic effects that ease the body's protective production of histamine and reduce allergic reactions. Stir one teaspoon of Himalayan salt into one cup of water. Once it dissolves, spray the mixture on the affected area or soak it using a washcloth. Two cups of Himalayan salt can also be added to a bath.
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