Ontario Wildflowers website

Poison Ivy Cures

Here are some tips for curing the rash from Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron rydbergii) and Poison Sumac (Toxicodendron vernix).


If you know you have contacted Poison Ivy, wash the affected area with soap and water as soon as possible (within a few hours). This usually prevents any effects. 



Washing with Jewelweed juice is also very effective. Just grab some of the plant, and smush it onto the affected area. The stems are the juiciest.


Referring to Tom Brown's Edible and Medicinal Field Guide, Black and White Birch leaf or spring growth tea does a fine job of allaying the itch and misery of poison ivy. Check pg. 58.


The following is from one of the Tracker School mailing lists on the Internet.  It was posted by Kevin Reeve.

There have been many posts on poison ivy, so rather than quoting one, I will just post what I know.

Poison Ivy is actually caused by an oil called urishal (varied spelling) that is found through out the plant.  It is most heavily concentrated on the leaves, but can be found in the stem and roots as well. It is also the same poison found in Poison Oak. When this oil comes in contact with the skin, it causes the body's immune system to release histamines to fight off the attack of the oils. The blistering and itching are basically the immune system going way overboard to fight this poison.

The best treatment is prevention through awareness. I am so allergic and have had such bad experiences that I always know where my feet are going. Because ivy can grow as a creeping vine up trees you have to be careful that you don't brush up against what you thing is an ash tree but that has been taken over by ivy. The leaf shapes can fool you as they are similar.

If you do come in contact, you have some time to get the oil off your skin before your body reacts. You must use a detergent to break down the oils. I prefer to wash with Dawn dishwasher detergent. I tried using ecosoap and because it had no detergent, I still got the reaction.

Antihistimines are recommended as well, but once the rash occurs, they are of little value. Jewelweed is also useful as a preventative if exposed, but I usually wash first then apply jewelweed.

Once you have the rash, it can go systemic. The body senses a bad enough problem that it releases histimines to many sites. This is where it can get serious. Now you may get blisters popping up where you were never even exposed. The fluid from the blistering is not going to spread the rash,because it is syrum of the body, not poison. It is like any other serious allergic reaction at this point and anaphalactic shock is a possibility.

Once systemic the only treatment that I have found effective is the administration of steroids, such as cortizone. They basically shut down the immune system response, but they have side affects that can last for a while. SInce they shut down the immune system, you can be susceptible for some time to disease after taking it. However, if you have ever had systemic poison oak before, you realize that you will do anything to make it go away.

There is more I could cover, but I am out of time. 



Rubbing alcohol is said to help with the rash.