All my life I have been outside, playing in the woods and hanging out with friends. Never did I ever break out in a rash from Poison Ivy, until last year. Why did I make it so long without breaking out, who in the world knows? All I know is that having a Poison Ivy rash sucks! And I never want it to happen again. So I did a ton of research, talked to a lot of people and have put together this complete guide to dealing with poison ivy.
So after 43 years, I am no longer immune to Poison Ivy. I didn’t get the chicken pox until I was 21 either, maybe they are related? I don’t know, you get older and things change right? In the last year, I have had it 3 times. My neighbor has it in her groundcover and it’s creeping over. So every now and then I have to go in and take care of it. Then I catch a rash….well no more.
I am not going to show you a bunch of images of the rash…😝 You can find them on the web easily enough. I have included a few images of the plant, just remember leaves of three….and the center leaf is always longer.
How Does Poison Ivy Rash Spread
Poison Ivy has an oil on the leaves and stem called Urushiol. It’s an oily chemical that causes skin rash, or dermatitis.
It can also be inhaled so NEVER burn it.
This oil likes to cling to clothing as well, so always wash clothes within a few hours without anything else in with them.
How to Prevent a Poison Ivy Rash
Well, the obvious answer would be don’t touch it….sorry I couldn’t resist! LOL. But seriously, we don’t have a choice sometimes so the best thing you can do is arm yourself properly.
First, you need to suit up. What I mean is plastic gloves, long sleeves, long pants, tall socks, and a mask.
I know, you are thinking seriously Wendy?! Yep, I am 100% serious. The rubber gloves will protect your hands, clothes will protect your skin and the mask is to protect your lungs.
I read that sometimes if a stem breaks oils can come off or if something tears or god forbid the poison ivy burns the Urushiol will become airborne. And that will do a number on your lungs so please, protect yourself.
Place any pieces of the plant into a plastic trash bag, place that bag into another bag when you are done and carefully pull your gloves off, like a surgeon does. Don’t touch the outside of the gloves with your bare skin. Throw the gloves away in the trash bag.
Take all your clothes off and put them in the washer immediately alone, not with any other clothes you need to wash. Run them through and then it’s a good idea to run the machine through with nothing in it. If you have a clean cycle I would use that or if it will run with a decent amount of water you can add some bleach to clean it. Depends on what kind of machine you have and how many bells and whistles it offers!
How to Get Rid of Poison Ivy
There are lots of methods, you can pull it up by the stem and if you get all the shoots you are good to go. Or you can cut it at the base of the stem and put a stump treatment on it to kill the remaining roots. Always do this on a dry day, not at dawn or dusk.
The best way is to use a chemical on the plant. Roundup makes one specifically for Poison Ivy and it works pretty well.
There are some homemade remedies to kill Poison Ivy and I will share them with you. Personally, I would go for the chemical. This plant is no joke and will really cause you some discomfort, the best way to get rid of it is the first time and for good in my opinion.
But, if you still want to give one a try you can check these out:
Country Living in a Cariboo Valley has a remedy with vinegar, salt and Dawn dishwashing liquid that looks interesting. I see Dawn used a lot to get rid of the oil, so maybe this will work.
Ask Joanne also goes into a vinegar and salt solution might be something to it!
How to Treat a Poison Ivy Rash
If you happen to touch Poison Ivy you need to wash your hands as soon as possible. DO NOT USE HOT WATER! Hot water opens your pores and will allow the Urushiol to soak in. Use cold water and dawn dishwashing liquid with a clean washcloth. Instead of Dawn, you can use a special soap for Poison Ivy but Dawn works just as well.
If you happen to get the rash then I am very sorry! I know first hand, actually dealing with it right now, how uncomfortable this stuff is. Sometimes the rash will go away on its own, you can use some over the counter anti-itch cream like Cortizone or Calamine cream.
Personally, I don’t mess around. I go right to the doctor and get on a steroid, usually Prednizone. It sucks to take it but the alternative for me is unacceptable.
Home Remedies for Treating a Poison Ivy Rash
There are lots of ideas out there that you can try to treat the rash, or at least to handle the impossible itching sensation. Here are some that you can try:
Crazy Health Plan has 10 different ways to get rid of the rash.
1800 Remedies has 11 ways to get rid of the rash, or at least handle the itching.
Here are some more ideas from StyleCraze. I am seeing a theme with them all…..let me know if you see it.
Is Poison Ivy Contagious?
Oh, the rumors and old wives tales! They are abundant when it comes to this nasty plant.
Poison Ivy is NOT contagious. You CANNOT pass it from one person to another UNLESS you transfer the Urushiol oil from one person to the other. For example, you pulled Poison Ivy and then shake someone’s hand before you washed it. Then you could pass it to someone else. But once you clean up and everything is away there is no passing this rash.
Now, let’s say you put the clothes you were wearing in with any other laundry you are doing, the oil could get on the other clothes and then another person could break out in a rash. That would be the only other way you could pass this rash to another person. That’s why we always wash the clothes alone.
I hope you have learned some good things about how to get rid of Poison Ivy out of your landscaping, how to handle the rash and prevent it if at all possible. I personally never want to deal with this again! Good luck and if you have anything additional that I didn’t include in this post feel free to leave it in the comments!