First Aid : How to Get Rid of Poison Oak Rash
How to Get Rid of Poison Ivy
Most people have some form of allergy to the poison ivy plant. When your skin comes into contact with the plant, the oil of the plant seeps into your skin, causing you to break out in a red, itchy rash. To avoid outbreaks, you should take steps to remove poison ivy plants from your yard once you spot them. When poison ivy rashes do develop, you should also take steps to get rid of the rash. Keep reading to learn more about how to get rid of poison ivy in both forms.
Basic Steps to Remove Poison Ivy Plants
Identify the poison ivy.Poison ivy can take the form of an upright woody shrub, and trailing shrub, or a woody vine, but the leaves are always compound leaves consisting of three leaflets coming off the same stalk.
- Each leaflet is generally 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) long. The middle leaflet is usually slightly bigger than the other two.
- The leaves have pointed tips and are often green and glossy, but some poison ivy plants have dull green leaves, instead.
- Poison ivy plants can grow in a range of areas, but it is most commonly found along wooded trails, roadsides, and fenced rows.
Take protective measures.Wear gloves as you work to prevent the plant from coming into contact with your skin. Wear long pants, long sleeves, socks, and shoes. Cover as much skin as possible.
- Discard or wash the gloves after the plant has been removed. Also wash the clothes you wore. Thoroughly rinse the washing machine after washing your work clothes to avoid contaminating the rest of your laundry.
Dig up small plants.New or small poison ivy shrubs can be dug up using a shovel. When removing the plant, remove all parts, including the entire root.
- Note that poison ivy plants can grow from root sections, so the entire root must be removed in order to ensure that the plant will not return.
- Removal is most effective when the soil is moist.
Cut down larger plants.If you cannot pull or dig out the root of a long vine or mature plant, use sturdy garden shears to cut the plant off at the base.
- Sever the plant as close to the ground or visible base as possible.
- Keep up on the process. You may need to continually cut the plant down before you successfully starve it.
- Thoroughly clean the shears after cutting the plant to wipe away the poisonous oil. Use soap and water or bleach diluted with water.
Apply herbicide.Chemical herbicides can be applied to freshly cut poison ivy or to poison ivy plants that have not been cut.
- To maximize effectiveness, apply a chemical herbicide immediately after you cut the plant down to the ground. Do not wait to do so since the plant may close the fresh "wound," thereby eliminating your ability to access the plant's roots through the exposed portion.
- Note that herbicides capable of killing poison ivy will also kill other plants. For this reason, it is important that you apply the chemical directly to the poison ivy plant. One of the best ways to do this is with a small foam paintbrush.
- When possible, look for an herbicide that is specifically labeled for use against poison ivy. Chemicals commonly used against poison ivy include glyphosate, triclopyr, and amino triazole.
Discard removed poison ivy plants.Any plants or plant sections that have been removed should be wrapped in a plastic bag and thrown out.
- Do not burn the poison ivy. When burned, poison ivy produces a dangerous smoke that can cause damage to your eyes, skin, or respiratory tract.
Alternatives to Chemical Herbicides
Use white vinegar.Fill a spray bottle or garden sprayer with plain, undiluted white vinegar and apply directly to the poison ivy.
- As with chemical herbicides, vinegar can be applied to untrimmed leaves as well as cut stems.
- Vinegar will take longer to work than most chemical herbicides, but as long as you are willing to put in the extra time, the treatment should work.
Apply a salt-and-soap treatment.Combine 3 lbs (1350 g) of salt, 1 gallon (4 liters) of water, and 1/4 cup (60 ml) liquid soap in a garden sprayer. Apply the concoction directly to the poison ivy.
- Use the treatment primarily on uncut leaves. You can also use it on cut stems, however,
- For an even stronger solution, add vinegar into the mix. Dissolve 1 cup (250 ml) of salt in 1 gallon (4 liters) of white vinegar over low heat. Once cool, stir in about 8 drops of liquid dish detergent and apply the solution to the poison ivy as a spray.
Pour boiling water over the poison ivy.Boil a kettle or pot of water and dump the hot liquid directly over the roots of the poison ivy plant.
- This will need to be done on a daily basis, and it may take quite some time before the plant actually dies off.
- The boiling water can be dumped on the base of the plant, but for best results, dig away some of the soil surrounding the base to expose a portion of the roots directly.
- Note that even dead poison ivy plants have poisonous oils on them, so you should still take precaution when removing them.
Plant grass.After removing or cutting down any poison ivy plants you notice in the area, scatter grass seed. When grass grows, the roots choke out the roots of the poison ivy, making it difficult if not impossible for the plant to come back.
- This treatment takes quite some time since the grass needs an adequate amount of time to grow. In the meantime, you should keep up on removing or cutting down poison ivy plants you see.
Basic Steps to Get Rid of Poison Ivy Rashes
Wash the area immediately.Within 15 minutes of coming into contact with poison ivy, wash the affected area of skin with warm water and mild soap.
- The plant oil enters the skin quickly, so you should wash the area as quickly as possible to reduce the severity of the rash.
- Use a brush to scrub under the fingernails. Otherwise, plant oil trapped under your nails can spread to other parts of your body.
- Remove any clothing that came into contact with the poison ivy plant. Change into fresh clothes after washing the area.
- If you suspect that your pet came into contact with the plant, you should immediately bathe the animal to remove poison ivy oil from its fur.
Use a cool compress.The rash can cause discomfort and sweating, but sweat and body heat can make the itching worse. Apply a cool compress to soothe the itching and keep yourself cool.
- You should also wear loose, light clothing to prevent yourself from becoming too warm.
Apply calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream.Gently rub a thin layer of either product over the poison ivy rash as needed.
- Calamine lotion and hydrocortisone cream can both reduce itching and blistering.
- Follow the label instructions concerning how much to apply and how often.
Try taking an antihistamine.An over-the-counter antihistamine medication may be used if lotions and creams are unable to soothe or stop the itching.
- The itchy rash produced after coming into contact with poison ivy is actually the result of an allergic reaction that most people have to the poison ivy plant. Antihistamines are used to treat allergies, so they often have an effect against allergy-related rashes like this.
- Always follow the instructions on the label of the antihistamine concerning dosage.
Call your doctor, if necessary.If the rash is especially bad and does not respond to home remedies, contact your health care provider.
- In severe cases, a doctor will usually prescribe steroids. These may be administered by injection or in capsule form.
Wash all tools and clothing thoroughly.Any clothing worn when you came into contact with the poison ivy must be washed to prevent the oil from spreading. Likewise, all tools used when treating yourself for a poison ivy rash must also be washed.
- Wash clothes in hot water and detergent. Thoroughly rinse the washing machine when done.
- Wash tools in a diluted bleach solution or with rubbing alcohol.
Alternative Treatments for Poison Ivy Rashes
Take an oatmeal bath.Oatmeal bath products are readily available and well-known as a remedy against itching.
- Bathe in lukewarm water, and do so at least once per day for the duration of the rash.
- You could also try a soak with aluminum acetate. Products containing aluminum acetate can also be purchased at most drugstores.
Make a baking soda paste.Combine 3 tsp (15 ml) of baking soda with 1 tsp (5 ml) of water and mix until a paste forms. Apply this paste to infected areas.
- Baking soda is a natural remedy against itching associated with poison ivy.
- You can also take a baking soda bath to relieve itching caused by large poison ivy rashes. Mix 1/2 cup (125 ml) of baking soda into a bathtub of warm water and soak in the bath until the water begins to cool.
Apply witch hazel.Witch hazel extract, available as splashes and balms, can be applied directly to the rash.
- This is an astringent product that tightens the skin, thereby relieving the itchiness of the rash and cooling it down.
- The product is natural and made from the bark of the witch hazel tree.
Use aloe vera.Aloe vera gels and lotions should be applied directly to the affected skin.
- Aloe vera products are made from the inner part of the aloe vera plant.
- Compounds in this plant relieve itching and can accelerate healing.
Try tea tree oil.Apply a thin coat of tea tree oil directly to the poison ivy rash, rubbing it into the skin until the oil nearly vanishes.
- Tea tree oil is a natural anti-inflammatory. Applying it reduces the redness and swelling of the rash.
- The oil is a product of the Australian tea tree.
Wash with ocean water.If you are near the ocean, stand in the water and gently rub some of the ocean sand over your poison ivy blisters. Once the blisters break, allow the ocean water to pass over the wounds.
- This treatment dries up the poison ivy remarkably fast, and rashes may clear up within one or two days.
- Note that you must use natural ocean water. Do not use water from a fresh water source, like a lake, and do not attempt to mimic the effect of ocean water by combining water and salt.
QuestionIs poison ivy on the endangered species list?Top AnswererNo, poison ivy is common in America and Asia. You can remove it without concern.Thanks!
To get rid of poison ivy if you have a rash, start by washing the area with warm water and mild soap, preferably within 15 minutes of touching the plant. After cleaning the area, apply a cold compress to the rash to treat inflammation and prevent sweating, which can cause the rash to spread. Then, apply calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream to soothe the rash and prevent itching. If a lotion or cream doesn’t stop the itching, try taking an antihistamine medication. Call your doctor if the rash won’t go away or the itching isn’t helped with medication.
Things You'll Need
Spray bottle or garden sprayer
Liquid dish soap
Kettle or saucepan
Oatmeal bath products
Witch hazel extract
Tea tree oil
Sources and Citations
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Video: Mayo Clinic Minute: How to treat poison ivy rash
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