Just got off the phone after texting my brother. We live two hours apart, so I love this ability to keep in touch by having a little chat every few days. (Amazing, huh? Considering we are in our 60s.) He mentioned how he has been busy weeding and since, after checking the radar on our phones, the forecasted rains are not close to either of us yet, he was going to take the opportunity to weed some more. He likes his beautiful landscaping being the envy of the neighborhood. That reminded me of the time he weeded out some poison ivy several years back.
Just to be clear, poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac all have the same substance – a long-lasting sticky oil called urushiol that leaves a very ugly and painful and itchy rash.
Here in the country, people have been known to pour gasoline on their skin where it was touched by the plant, as it breaks down the oil from the poison ivy (or poison oak or poison sumac) so that it can be removed from the body and not spread. Did you gasp when you read the word “gasoline”? Think how the skin took in that gasoline and put it in the bloodstream. Truly toxic as it heads for the liver…
You need a rinse that helps to SAFELY break down the oil from the poison ivy (or poison oak or poison sumac) so that it can be removed from the body and not spread and will also begin to heal the skin.
Make sure you remove all clothing carefully and wash them (I wash them separately) since the oil can be in the fibers of the material and could get on you again or on someone else. Rinse wherever you touched poison ivy with the rinse that hopefully you have made up in advance. If not, at least rinse with apple cider vinegar. Ideally you will have a Poison Ivy Rinse in your refrigerator when you need it.
I should note here that if you got the poison ivy in your shoes or you did not rinse your feet from poison ivy and then wore shoes, the poison ivy oil can get into the shoe material and keep reinfecting your feet every time you put the shoes on. A grandchild of mine had this terrible experience which resulted in having a painful, itchy rash for months until we realized what was happening. The shoes had to be destroyed. I can imagine this happening the same with gloves.
Need a recipe for a Poison Ivy Rinse? Make this one up in advance and keep in the refrigerator (or a cooler, if on an outing or in the fields) until needed.
Poison Ivy Rinse
- Make a strong decoction of equal parts Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) and Horsetail (Equisetum arvense).
- Place 1/2 ounce (1 Tablespoon) of each herb into a sauce pan.
- Pour 2 cups of cold water over the herbs.
- Cover the pan and slowly bring to a boil.
- Lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.
- Strain the decoction into a measuring cup..
- Then to 2 parts of the resulting herbal liquid, add 1 part apple cider vinegar.
- Whatever the liquid measures in the cup, add half of that amount of apple cider vinegar.
- Add 1 tablespoon of salt per cup of the above mixture of tea and vinegar.
- Store in refrigerator until needed.
- Apply externally as a rinse to all affected areas, being careful not to let splashing spread to other parts of body or on clothing.
Sometimes the rinse is all you need to get rid of the poison ivy oil, especially if you apply the rinse at the very beginning of touching the poison ivy. But most times it will go a little deeper into the skin before the rinse is applied and a painful itchy rash will result that will usually take two weeks to heal, longer if the poison ivy oil has not completely been removed.
To reduce swelling, pain and itch and to speed up the healing, a rash ointment needs to be applied several times a day.
Hopefully, like with the Poison Ivy Rinse, you have a rash ointment available to use immediately when you need it. Here is the recipe for the Allergic Rash Ointment I used to sell in my herb shop. I am still using that recipe for myself and my family years later. It not only works for relief and healing of poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac, but also works for wasp and bee stings and for bug bites.
Allergic Rash Ointment
First make an infused oil of 2 parts Plantain (Plantago major), 1 part Chickweed (Stellaria media) and 1 part Comfrey (Symphytum officinale).
- Grind 3 ounces by weight of dried Plantain and 1 1/2 ounces by weight each of dried Chickweed and dried Comfrey.
- Add the herbs to 1 1/2 cups of olive oil and 2 cups of almond oil in a double boiler.
- Let the herb and oil mixture simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
- Infused oil can be kept in the refrigerator for a few weeks prior to being used in an ointment.
Then make the ointment by adding beeswax.
- Heat infused oil in double boiler, if it had been kept in the refrigerator.
- Sprinkle 2 Tbsp. beeswax for every 1 cup of the allergic rash infused oil over the hot mixture and gently stir until dissolved.
- Pour the still warm liquid into containers (glass jars or tins) and let sit until cool and firm.
- Cover each container.
This recipe will make about seven 4 oz containers. And I know from actual experience that they last a long time. I find my tin of allergic rash ointment that I made over two years ago is still effective. Make sure hands are dry when applying to keep mold and bacteria out of the container.