How to Treat Poison Ivy

Homesteading:  A weekly account of our journey to becoming off grid homesteaders.  Our path will be long as we are only paying in cash and our funds are very limited.  Mike and I have no idea what we're doing so we'll be learning as we go.  I know we'll make mistakes and that's ok.  It's all part of the process.  

We would love to read about your homesteading experiences, so if you'd like to share your favorite resources, tips, funny stories, recipes, books, website or even just a photo from the week, please leave a link in the comments.

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That is one beautiful hillside, perfect for tree forts and a rock stair case, and.... poison ivy.  I thought we had done our best to identify the leaves and avoid them at all costs, but not this time.  All of us have broke out in the rash.  Mike and I have the worst of it.  Head to toe oozing, insane itching, the works.  It's been a long week and I'm still seeing new spots every day.  

First we went to the river banks for our tried and true remedy, jewelweed, but it's too late in the season and the plants were all woody.  Next we went to Facebook and asked around to see what our customers and friends could recommend. 

 Here's the list we ended up with:

* Calamine lotion (which really helped the best with oozing)

* Jewelweed salve (We made some earlier in the year with beeswax and coconut oil; best smelling, but didn't help much as the jewelweed needs to be fresh to get the most benefit.)

* Oatmeal bath to sooth the skin (I didn't help at all, except for a half hour alone to soak in the tub.)

* Tea tree oil 

* Burt's Bees Rescue Ointment

*  Colgate octagon soap

* Benadryl (In a last desperate attempt to get some sleep I took one, and it worked great.  I wasn't up all night itching.)

* Rubbing alcohol

* Baking soda and water paste

* Zanfel (Very expensive and too many ingredients I can't pronounce!  I went and looked them up. YIKES!)

* Bleach (I DO NOT recommend this, but it was suggested.)

* A trip to the doctor for steroids.

If you've had poison ivy, I'd love to hear what worked for you!  Also, any tips on eliminating the plant from our hillside would be great too.


  1. I don't know if this will work for poison ivy, but it helps by brother with poison oak: arid extra dry spray deodorant. It helps dry out the blisters.
    Sorry, all that is so irritating.

  2. My mother is a dermatology nurse and told me to wrap the affected area with cotton t-shirt strips soaked in milk when I had the WORST case ever this spring. It was very soothing and helped to dry up the oozing.I hope you are all feeling better soon.


  3. witch hazel.i worked at the only witch hazel production plant in the us,here in ct,and they let us take damaged goods home.i put witch hazel prepared pads,or wash cloths soaked in liquid witch hazel,on the affected areas and strapped them on with gauze or ace bandages.i would leave them on until the cloths dried out,then replace as necessary.the itching would stop almost immediately,and the blisters would dry up overnight.once,i made homemade nettle salve for poison ivy,chickenpox,eczema,etc.and used that in combo with the witch hazel.when i woke up in the am,the poison ivy was gone! all that was left was some redness from having been scratching it.i hope this will help you.this is our tried-and-true family "cure" for poison ivy and never fails to work its magic.i hope you all feel better soon!

    1. Of course, why didn't I think of witch hazel? Thanks:)

  4. I'm happy to report that it's almost all cleared up. Except for a few dry patches and blisters I found under my rings, everything is feeling good. Thanks so much for all the suggestions! Cross my fingers it won't happen again, but just in case....

  5. Oh I feel for you.
    Our woods are filled with poison ivy, there is something about the climate here which helps it to thrive. As a result we have to stay out of the woods for the summer. :( My hubby, and daughter and two of my sons are severely allergic (my other son and I have never had it, oddly).
    Our tricks are:
    wash the area thoroughly with dish soap, or dr. bronner's liquid soap to remove all oils. This must be done gently. After that, either leave it alone or apply witch hazel, and give it time to heal.
    Good luck with the poison ivy! I have been told you must be careful of the roots too, they can cause the rash!

  6. That sounds so utterly nasty, we have stinging nettle but it is nothing on the sound of poison ivy, has to be some upside to the Australian bush, we just have snakes to contend with.

  7. In terms of killing poison ivy, the only thing that I've ever found that works well is RoundUp - Kill Poison Ivy & Tough Brush. The normal Roundup weed killer won't work, but the brush killer will.

    Now, I'm not a big fan of using chemicals -- in fact, almost everything we do is organic. BUT, I will resort to chemicals to kill poison ivy because the last time I came into contact with the weed, I was miserable for a month and had to get two (yes, TWO) cortisone shots because I am super allergic to just about everything, and the poison ivy "sores" just would NOT heal. My husband is also incredibly allergic to poison ivy and seems to catch it even when he's close to it.