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27 Tips On How To Treat Poison Ivy Blisters & Rash On Lips & Face

How to Get Rid of Poison Ivy

Go gaga for goats!

Its a well known fact that goats will eat nearly anything.  Goats will happily clear out patches of poison ivy without any itchy side effects.  Don’t have a goat?  Drinking goat’s milk is said to dramatically reduce your reaction to poison ivy.  Science has proven that the urushiol contained in the plant does not transfer to the milk so there is no risk of catching poison ivy from drinking the milk.  I have found no concrete evidence that goat’s milk will help your allergy, but many, many people swear it helps!   Likewise, it is said that soap made from goat’s milk helps relieve itchy rashes.

Goats?  Come On, Give Me Some Advice I Can Really Use!

Goats are awesome, but I don’t know of any goat-rental services.  If you’re going to tackle this problem yourself, the first thing you need to do is protect yourself.  Once again, the poisonous urushiol in poison ivy is in every part of the plant.  You will need to wear gloves, long pants, long sleeves, etc.  Armor yourself as much as you feel necessary.  Mike is highly sensitive to poison ivy so he is careful to cover his face with a mask and his eyes with goggles.

Mike, Armed For Battle

Mike, Armed For Battle

After tackling the ivy, be sure to wash your clothing right away.  Wash your hands with soap in cool water.  (Hot water opens your pores.)  Shower with luke warm water.  Wash your loppers or any other tools you used.  The oils can remain active for over a year.  Get ’em off.

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Pulling poison ivy out by hand can prove difficult.  They have a strong, long root system.  The roots can be over a yard or two long.  Pulling out the entire root is hard.  You’ll find that this method is often only a temporary fix.  They almost always grow back.  That being said, if you are going to pull them out by hand, the best time to do it is winter or early spring while the oil production is low.  This is also the best time to cut any large vines growing up trees.

Clipping a Poison Ivy Vine

Clipping a Poison Ivy Vine

The vines rely on the strong root system to keep them alive.  If you cut them, anything above the cut will die.

After spring when your poison plant (hehe) has leafed out, you can spray the leaves with a systemic herbicide like Round-Up.  These weed killers are absorbed through the leaves then enters the root system, killing the plant.  Be careful to only spray the poison ivy leaves.  You don’t want it absorbed into the leaves of plants that you want keep.

Many people think that by using it full strength, they are giving a heavier dose.  This is not the case.  Systemic herbicides are carried through the plant by the water in the mixture.  If you don’t add water, it doesn’t work properly.   Less poison is carried to the roots.

Don’t Want To Use Chemicals?

Not to worry!  There are more natural alternatives for spraying leaves.  Here is a simple recipe that you’ll love:  Vinegar, salt and dish soap.  That’s it!

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Kill Weeds With 3 Simple Ingredients

Kill Weeds With 3 Simple Ingredients

Start with a gallon of white vinegar.  The “average” vinegar is 5% acidic and will work just fine, but if you can find one that’s 10% or 20% your mixture will be more potent.  Pour the vinegar into a pot and heat it over the stove.   Add 1 cup of salt and stir until the salt dissolves.  Let it cool, then add 2 tablespoons of liquid dish soap.

Vinegar, when diluted with a gallon of water makes a good fertilizer for acid-loving plants like azaleas, rhododendrons and blueberries.  When mixed full strength with salt, it works very much like Round-Up. The dish soap helps the mixture to stick to the leaves.

Pour the mixture into a spray bottle.  Set the sprayer to stream (not mist) to for better control.  Once again, be careful where you spray because it will damage any leaf that it hits.

Be Patient

Spraying your plants with a systemic herbicide or the vinegar mixture will not work overnight.  After its absorbed into the leaves it takes time before it destroys the root system.  Give it 2 weeks, then spray the plant again if necessary.  It may take more than one application to do the job.  Poison ivy is a tough plant with strong roots.

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Dead vines of poison ivy can still contain potent amounts of oil for quite some time.  Wear gloves and wash up after moving them.  It is best to bury it or if you have woods behind your house, you can pile it up where no person or pets will come in contact with it.

Do Not Burn It!!

Even dead poison ivy can contain urushiol that can be released through burning.  Inhaling the smoke can inflame your lungs, bronchial tubes and nasal passages.  It can get into your eyes.  Its nasty stuff.  Burning poison ivy was the inspiration behind the creation of mustard gas that was used in WWI.   Please, please, please do not burn your poison ivy.

Here is what Mike has to say about getting rid of poison ivy.


Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe is very soothing on any kind of skin rash or irritation.

Slit the aloe leaf open and scrape out the gel inside to use as a cooling remedy for poison ivy or poison oak rashes. It is also a good way to soothe the skin after any of the above treatments.


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Calamine Lotion

Calamine lotion is a commercial product made from a century’s old recipe. Today’s version usually contains benedryl, which is also helpful for allergic reactions and zinc oxide which is good for the skin. Calamine lotion has a drying effect on the blisters and relieves itching. Let the lotion dry in place and leave it on the skin if possible.

What Does Poison Ivy Look Like?

You’ve probably heard the old adage before: Leaves of three let it be.

The poison ivy plant has three leaves at the end of a long stem—one larger leaf is generally at the end of the stem, with two smaller ones flanked at its sides.

Poison ivy leaves are green in the spring and summer, but turn to a deep red in the fall. The leaves on the poison ivy plant can be smooth, rounded, or spiny, and though they are generally waxy and shiny, they may look dull after a rainstorm. (source)

Poison Ivy Plant During the Summer Months

This is what a poison ivy plant looks like in the spring and summer

(image source)

Poison Ivy Plant in the Fall

This is what a poison ivy plant looks like in the fall

(image source)

Poison Ivy Rash Pictures

A poison ivy rash can range from mild to severe, depending on how much urushiol gets on your skin and how sensitive you are to it. The more severe the poison ivy rash, the more inflamed, swollen, and red the rash will look. A severe poison ivy rash also generally oozes clear fluid. (source)

A minor case of poison ivy

This is what a more minor case of poison ivy looks like

Blistering poison ivy rash

This is what a poison ivy rash looks like when it begins to blister

Severe poison ivy rash

This is what a more severe case of poison ivy looks like

(image source)

How to Relieve Poison Ivy Rash

1. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar can be applied to the skin to relieve itching as needed. If you skin is broken from scratching, the apple cider vinegar will burn. Dilute apple cider vinegar with water using ½ apple cider vinegar and ½ water. If you have extensive outbreaks, add 1 cup of apple cider vinegar to your bath and soak for 20 minutes.

2. Baking Soda

A simple paste made with baking soda and water can be applied to the rash to relieve itching. Again, like the apple cider vinegar, a baking soda bath can bring hours of itch relief. Add 1 cup of baking soda to a warm bath.


DMSO is a solvent and helps to break down the urushiol even after it binds to your skin. Do not use more than 70% DMSO on your skin.

4. Bromelain

Bromelain is a substance in pineapple that has anti-inflammatory properties. For poison ivy, take it on an empty stomach. (Taken with food the bromelain is busy helping your digestion.)

5. Nettle Leaf

Nettle leaf purifies the blood and reduces allergy symptoms. It works best for poison ivy by taking it internally as a tea, in a tincture or in capsules.

6. Turmeric Root

Turmeric root, like nettle leaf, purifies the blood. It is also an anti-inflammatory. It can be taken internally in capsules or as Golden Milk. It can be made into a paste and applied directly to the poison ivy, though this will stain the skin temporarily.

7. Jewelweed

Jewelweed is a first choice herb for poison ivy. Unfortunately, it must be prepared from the fresh leaf and flower, and most people do not have access to it. You can find jewelweed soaps and tinctures on the market to treat poison ivy.

8. Comfrey

Comfrey is a skin healing nutritive herb. A salve or tea made with comfrey leaf can bring relief to poison ivy.

9. Goldenseal

As a tincture, Goldenseal can be applied to the skin to treat poison ivy.

When to See Your Doctor

Some people have a more serious reaction to poison ivy, oak, or sumac. Make an appointment with your doctor if you notice any of these problems:

  • Temperature over 100 F
  • Pus on the rash
  • Soft yellow scabs
  • Itching that gets worse or keeps you up at night
  • The rash spreads to your eyes, mouth, or genital area
  • Your rash doesn’t get better within a few weeks

Your doctor may prescribe an oral corticosteroid, such as prednisone. They may also give you a steroid cream to apply to your skin. If the rash becomes infected, you may need to take an oral antibiotic.

Treatment for Poison Ivy Rash

Home Remedies

Poison ivy usually goes away without any treatment and heals in one to three weeks. Patients can often use home remedies to get rid of it. Rinse the skin with lukewarm, soapy water after touching the plant and wash anything that may have the oil on it, such as clothing, gardening tools and pets. Do not scratch the rash and do not touch the blisters to avoid infection. There are also oatmeal treatments to add to a bath that can ease the discomfort or use a clean cool compress to relieve itching (x).

Medical Treatments

However, a serious reaction will require medication from a dermatologist, such as a steroid ointment if the reaction is mild or prednisone if it is more severe. Other remedies include calamine lotion and antihistamines. Specifically, patients should only take antihistamine tablets because topicals can irritate the skin. However, if the patient has swelling, pain, fever, pus or warmth around the rash, it may be infected and require an antibiotic. It’s best to visit a dermatologist to inspect a skin rash for a diagnosis (x).

Reader Success Stories

  • Ann Bizer

Apr 30, 2017

    Ann Bizer Apr 30, 2017

    “I have jasmine growing on my fence. I noticed that I had another vine growing with my jasmine, and it had groups of 3 leaves. I am in the process of pulling it out (with gloves and long pants on, of course). I suspected it might be at least a relative of poison ivy. I looked it up on this article, and confirmed that it is poison ivy. This article was very helpful to me. ” …” more

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