Keeping an eye out for these plants, and avoiding contact is the best way to prevent getting poison ivy. Poison ivy generally grows as a vine, and can be identified by its cluster of three leaves. The leaves on Poison oak resemble lobed oak leaves. It grows in threes on a bush, instead of a vine. Poisonous sumac grows as a small tree or bush, and has an odd number of leaves, ranging from seven to thirteen. Poison ivy thrives in partially shaded areas.
You can also get poison ivy by touching a gardening tool, gloves, or clothing that made contact with the plant’s oily sap. Petting your dog or cat, after it brushed against the plant, is another way to get poison ivy.
Some people are more sensitive, and susceptible to poison ivy than others. How your body responds depends on the immune system. A mild case of poison ivy usually clears within a week. The rash and itching may spread to various parts of your body during the process. In more severe cases, there may be blisters, a burning, itchy, red rash, fever, and swelling. Scratching the itching rash is difficult to avoid, but doing so can cause inflammation, and the rash spreading to other parts of your body. Seek a physician’s care for severe cases of poison ivy, especially those that involve swelling and fever.
How to Prevent, Relieve and Heal Mild Poison Ivy –
Try one or more of these natural home remedies.
- Wear gloves and heavy clothing when outdoors in areas that poison ivy may grow. Don’t rub bare skin with gloves. Wash clothing, and clean garden tools with rubbing alcohol after using.
- Wear gloves to bathe your furry pet, if you suspect it been near a poisonous plant.
- If you come in contact with a poison ivy plant, herbalists recommend breaking open a stem of a jewelweed plant and rubbing the juice on the affected skin, immediately to prevent the itchy rash. Jewelweed grows wild along our spring branch and creek in the summer. If you don't have any growing on your property, keep a bar of jewelweed soap on hand. Bathe with jewelweed soap after working outdoors where poison ivy grows.
- Bathe daily with jewelweed and oatmeal soap until rash has cleared. Jewelweed, aka as touch-me-not, is a native herb that grows wild in semi-shaded, wet areas, along creeks, streams, ponds, and swamps. It has delicate, trumpet-shaped orange flowers that hummingbirds love. Check with a local handcrafted soap maker or health food store for jewelweed soap. Herbal soaps containing comfrey and plantain are also beneficial for healing skin irritations.
- Sweating causes the itching to increase, so stay out of the hot sun when suffering with a poison ivy rash.
- Take vitamin C supplements twice daily, in the amount your health professional recommends. Vitamin C contains a natural antihistamine which helps reduce swelling and infection.
- Healing Ointment – To a spoon of coconut oil, add two drops each of lavender essential oil, frankincense essential oil, and tea tree essential oil. Rub into the affected skin area to reduce itching and prompt healing.
- Itch Relief Paste – Combine 3 teaspoons of oatmeal, baking soda, or cornstarch with a tablespoon of water and stir. Apply the paste to affected skin area to relieve itching.
- Cover rash area with pure, aloe Vera gel to relieve itching, and promote healing.
- Apply vitamin E oil topically on affected area to heal skin, and prevent scarring.
- Spray liquid silver onto rash to cool and heal.
- Apply Calamine lotion to rash to ease itching. Its drying effect also aides the healing process.
- Splash rubbing alcohol on rash to cool, and ease itching.
Here's to enjoying the great outdoors and taming your landscape this summer without suffering a bout of poison ivy.
Deborah Tukua is the editor of Journey to Natural Living and the author of the healthy fresh from the blender recipe book, Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. She is a freelance writer for the Farmers' Almanac and Chiropractic Economics magazine and author of the book, Marketing Strategies for Chiropractic Success.
Deborah is co-owner of the business, Ultimate H2O Solutions. To read more informative, healthy living articles by D. Tukua, visit her blog, H20 Solutions.