Poison Ivy: Nature's Nasty Revenge

Identifying and Treating Poison Ivy

George and Becky Lohmiller

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Poison Ivy
USDA-NRCS Plants Database

As anyone knows who has learned the old saying “Leaves of three, let it be” the hard way, poison ivy has a nasty habit of rewarding those who touch it with two or three weeks of blistering misery.


  • Poison Ivy's “leaves of three” are glossy-green, but are tinged with pink in the spring, and take on a brilliant orange in the autumn.
  • It has small, pearl-colored berries. These are a favorite treat of many birds, which spread poison ivy seeds around the countryside.

The Poison

The poison is an oily resin called urushiol that occupies every part of the plant, including the roots.

  • The leaves, especially young ones, contain the most toxin.
  • The oil can remain on tool handles and clothing for as long as a year. Dogs and cats can carry its potency on their fur. This is why you can come down with a rash without having seen poison ivy in months.

Fortunately, the oils don’t always go to work immediately, especially on dirty or work-hardened hands. If you come in contact with poison ivy, wash up at once and launder your clothes using old yellow laundry soap or boraxo to cut the oil. (Soaps made with fat are ineffective.)


If you become affected, there is no shortage of remedies, but many of them are useless and some can even make matters worse.

  • Mild cases can be helped by calamine lotion, over-the-counter cortisone creams, and saltwater soaks, but severe cases require prescription cortisone.
  • A barrier cream, IvyBlock, containing quaternium-18 bentonite, which bonds with the urushiol, promises to be effective 68%of the time, if applied before any contact with poison ivy.
  • Eradicating poison ivy is probably the best way to remain itch-free. The plants can be destroyed by covering them with black plastic or spraying them with appropriate herbicides. But beware—even dead plants are infectious.

Perhaps someday, plant scientists will develop a non-poisonous variety. Rumor has it that they have already crossed poison ivy with four-leaf clovers, hoping to get a rash of good luck.


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Do not forget that poison ivy

Do not forget that poison ivy also grows as a vine.....a hairy vine will itch you divine....

white shoe polish it gets rid

white shoe polish it gets rid of the itching and clears poison ivy up

Dawn *used* to contain

Dawn *used* to contain phosphates, which DEFINITELY cleared up rashes. But phosphates have all but been eradicated from any soaps out there today. Amway had a soap that was under the FDA radar for a while, and it always cleared up my poison ivy---but this idea that "blue dawn" works to clear rashes is outdated. I have had MUCH success with bleach on *unbroken* skin that has just started to show bumps.

I was in the scouts we used

I was in the scouts we used to take plain simple Deodorant "right guard " spray on the busters and it help'dry up very quickly

Yikes! Speaking of home


Speaking of home remedies, I knew someone who swore by an iron brush and bleach. Thankfully, I never tried it.

When ever I get poison ivy, I used this stuff called Itch Juice (www.mypoisonivytreatment.com). It's pretty good. The rash doesn't go away for a day or so, but because I am a landscaper I order get poison oak and this is the best stuff I've found so far.

I have poisin ivy right now.

I have poisin ivy right now. I just put bleach on it. Goes away every time. Dab some bleach on it. Works every time.

My dad swears by bleach on

My dad swears by bleach on poison ivy. But he says you have to scratch it open first.

bleach for me too. if i have

bleach for me too. if i have been around poison ivy or oak and get those familiar tingles the following day--i wait and see where the bumps appear, and then:

Qtip with bleach,
1) apply to new bumps for a couple of minutes
2) wipe bleach off
3) rinse area with water.

I am EXTRRRREMELY allergic to poison ivy. I have tried EVERYTHING. Most products are bullsh#t claims. Bleach works. Do your own research, my experience is my experience. It eorks for me, but is dangerous. I accept no resonsibility for any damage done to you if you put bleach on your own skin. Cursed urushion oil, I hate you!!!!

the bleach treatment has

the bleach treatment has worked again.
--I will say, I am familiar with the tingle of poison ivy, it is different than dry skin or a mosquito bite. I use a q-tip and lightly dab bleach on any new bumps of poison. IT DOES NOT HURT. People assume that it does. It has NEVER damaged my skin, people also assume that it does. Anyway I was off the bleach with water. In 5% of new spots I need to reapply. I have never found a better treatment than bleach. I was an Eagle Scout and got poison dozens of times--no "products" worked. Prednisone does, but it is also nothing I want in my body. I hope my comments help somebody.
--One final comment-- I personally would be very aprehensive about putting bleach on an already developed rash. It may work and dry up the rash, but that the skin is broken would have me scared to chance any skin damage. Mainly, I'd say that if you "think" you may have gotten into some form of poison and start feeling intense tingles the next day, THAT is when I treat with bleach. Spot specific for about one minute, then rinse off.

Heat it with a blow dryer as

Heat it with a blow dryer as long as you can stand it. It feels great and gives you about ten hours of relief. I do it his with bug bites as well.

It won't make the rash

It won't make the rash resolve any faster, but Sasquatch Itch Cream or even Tiger Balm (the old fashioned stuff) will give you about 10-12 hours of itch relief. Both act as counter-irritants and confuse the nerves that carry itch signals to your brain. I've spent many days on the river fly fishing and scratching my hide off before I discovered this.

A poison ivy remedy that

A poison ivy remedy that really works!


3 cups vinagar 1/2 cup of salt 1 Tbls Dawn dish liquid heat till salt disolved spray poison ivy every 3 to 4 days till all is gone. Also great to use on skin that has been exposed to poison plants. This is the best and safest weed killer I have ever found!!

I have aleays had great

I have aleays had great relief by using Fels-naptha soap. If I have been out where I might have been exposed I wash with it. If I have broken out I wash the affected area and then I lather that area and let it dry on. Works great!

Liquid dish washing soap is

Liquid dish washing soap is very good at cutting oil and should work on the oily resin of poison ivy.

You must be kidding.

You must be kidding.

I kid u not - Dawn (the blue

I kid u not - Dawn (the blue stuff) is the best - take a shower with it if you think you came in contact with poison ivy. No more rash and way cheaper than Technu.

Try a mixture of Bleach and

Try a mixture of Bleach and water. it must a 60%-40% or 50%-50% mixture. The water activates the bleach. Straight Bleach DOES NOT WORK!!!! It needs the water.
Let me know of your success'

I could remember a bleach

I could remember a bleach called white Monday and we would use it for different helmets it was not like Clorox bleach and mix it half-and-half it was good home abrasions poison ivy poison oak and sumac one must remember whatever you touch the affected area it spreads when you scratch It , it is like a chemical biological warfare this solution being pushed out by your body is toxic when you break the blisters the water is the poison so wherever you scratch and you Scratch some where else you spread the Toxic oil, The bleach helps dry it up

I have used straight bleach

I have used straight bleach no diluted solution for years. Clears up that spot every time

A poison ivy remedy that

A poison ivy remedy that really works! Look for a weed which grows along roadside ditches whose juice acts as a treatment for poison ivy rash, relieving that awful itch. The weed is called, "jewelweed" (sometimes misspelled as "jewel weed"), or "touch-me-not" ). Its taxonomy, Impatiens capensis, classifies it as a wild version of the colorful impatiens plants sold so widely for shady annual beds, and if you cannot locate jewelweed, you can try using the juice from impatiens stems. You can purchase extracts online, or you can collect the jewelweed, split the stems and rub the juice on the affected area. Relief is prompt and lasting!