Milwaukee Edition

Itchy Ivy

Tips to Avoid and Treat Poison Ivy Rash

Melinda Fawver/

Avoiding even slight contact with poisonous vines that secrete toxic oil goes far in preempting nasty blistering, skin pain and itching. If contact occurs, natural remedies can help prevent and diminish symptoms.

Recognition helps. In the North and West, it’s usually a shrub; in the East, Midwest and South, a vine. Watch out for a cluster of three leaves; the color changes seasonally.

For outdoor walks or hikes, maximize skin protection by wearing long-sleeved shirts, hats, rubber gloves, socks and closed-toe shoes. Also thoroughly rinse skin that may have come into contact with poison ivy in lukewarm soapy water using a washcloth or hand towel for friction as soon as possible to remove the damaging oil (video at

• Stay watchful; a rash sometimes doesn’t appear for 12 to 72 hours after contact (

• If a rash develops, soak in cool water baths containing an oatmeal-based product like Aveena or oatmeal soap.

• Lavender, peppermint, tea tree, Roman chamomile, myrrh, eucalyptus and cypress essential oils all offer anti-inflammatory and other soothing properties (recipes at

• Natural treatments found at include applying apple cider vinegar or brewed and chilled black tea; their tannins and other compounds lower inflammatory reactions.

• To reduce itching, suggests baking soda baths and pastes. Ditch the Itch Cream has natural ingredients such as colloidal oatmeal, oat extract, tea tree and neem oils that can provide temporary relief, according to Applying cool paper towels may be helpful; also try witch hazel. Over-the-counter cortisone cream or even calamine lotion is a last resort.

• Avoid scratching as an infection may develop through opening a blister. If breathing or swallowing worsens, eyes swell or a rash develops in or near the mouth, head to an emergency room or urgent care center.

This article appears in the June 2017 issue of Natural Awakenings.

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