Best poison ivy treatment

First Aid & Treatment

Most poison ivy rashes take about 12 hours to develop, which should give you plenty of time to wash any exposed body parts or clothing.

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Which poison ivy treatment is best?

There are few things worse than enjoying a beautiful hike over the weekend only to realize you’re covered in that familiar poison ivy rash come Monday morning. Even after taking all of the necessary precautions, sometimes it’s impossible to avoid that inconspicuous green leaf. 

When you start to feel the itch, you’d probably try just about anything to get relief. However, there are quite a few affordable treatment options available. For a powerful remedy with a homeopathic formula, check out the Green Goo Poison Ivy Salve.

What to know before you buy a poison ivy treatment

Rash prevention

The aggravating itch caused by poison ivy is due to a naturally occurring oil called urushiol. Poison ivy leaves produce urushiol as a defense against predators, but the waxy substance can easily come off and stick to your skin or clothing if you simply brush against the plants. 

We all know the “leaves of three, leave it be” rhyme, but if the plants are unavoidable, wash any exposed skin as soon as possible to stop the oil from spreading. Wear long pants when hiking and wash them as soon as you get home, taking care to wash your hands after touching any exposed garments. There are also preventive products on the market that can block urushiol from entering your skin. 

Treatment types

If you have a particularly severe poison ivy rash, you may be wondering when it’s time to see the doctor. Many pharmaceutical options are available that can provide quick and powerful relief, but these often use harsh chemicals and are more expensive than over-the-counter treatment methods. Some treatment pills can also interfere with other medications you may be taking. It comes down to your personal choice and the severity of your rash. When in doubt, consult a physician. 

Tips

  • When cleaning up after exposure to poison ivy, be sure to scrub under your fingernails too. Urushiol can easily hide in hard-to-reach places and spread days, or even weeks, after initial exposure. 
  • If you’re hiking with a pet, wash them afterward if you think they may have been exposed to the plant. 
  • Poison ivy rashes can’t spread from person to person, but the oil can get on anything, from hiking boots to gardening tools. 
  • Never burn poison ivy leaves. You could inhale smoke containing urushiol, resulting in a dangerous and painful lung infection. 

What to look for in a quality poison ivy treatment

Form

You can find poison ivy treatments in various forms, from scrubs and lotions to pills. Creams are great for soothing irritated skin and usually dry to form a thin protective layer over the rash. Lotions are popular because they provide fast relief, but you may need to reapply more frequently than other treatments. Homeopathic pills are a convenient choice, but they take longer to work and some users question their overall efficacy. 

Ingredients

Treatments can use a multitude of homeopathic and chemical ingredients to provide relief. Zinc oxide, witch hazel and baking soda are commonly used, while many people recommend hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion. 

Size

The itchy rash caused by exposure to poison ivy will usually only last for two to three weeks. Most users won’t go through an extra-large container of lotion or cream in that amount of time, so save some money and look for a small- to medium-sized jar or bottle. 

How much you can expect to spend on a poison ivy treatment

The cost of a poison ivy treatment will usually depend on the size of the container and the quality of the ingredients. Most consumers can expect to pay $5-$20 for a reliable, over-the-counter treatment. 

Poison ivy treatment FAQ

Why does poison ivy itch? 

A. The itch caused by exposure to poison ivy is due to the oil urushiol, which the plant naturally produces as a defense mechanism. 

Can poison ivy cause permanent damage?

A. Poison ivy rashes rarely lead to permanent damage, but avoid scratching the infected area or you could risk scarring. 

What’s the best poison ivy treatment to buy?

Top poison ivy treatment

Green Goo Poison Ivy Salve

Green Goo Poison Ivy Salve

What you need to know: This popular salve uses an entirely plant-based formula to provide quick relief. 

What you’ll love: The treatment’s gluten-free formula includes natural ingredients such as myrrh, yarrow, sage and St. John’s wort. The company uses the highest-quality homeopathic ingredients in all of its products. 

What you should consider: The container is somewhat small, so you may run out if you have a particularly widespread rash. 

Where to buy: Sold by iHerb

Top poison ivy treatment for the money

Aveeno Anti-Itch Concentrated Lotion

Aveeno Anti-Itch Concentrated Lotion

What you need to know: A popular treatment from a well-known company, this concentrated lotion offers great bang for your buck. 

What you’ll love: The dermatologist-recommended formula uses high-quality ingredients such as calamine, camphor and three different types of oat kernel to provide relief. You can also use the powerful lotion for chickenpox and insect bites. 

What you should consider: Some users didn’t like the lotion’s sticky feel, and others had to reapply often to feel consistent relief. 

Where to buy: Sold by iHerb

Worth checking out

Earth’s Care Anti-Itch Cream

Earth’s Care Anti-Itch Cream

What you need to know: This small tub of anti-itch cream uses menthol and camphor for a soothing sensation on irritated skin. 

What you’ll love: Many users enjoy the smell and unique cooling sensation of this poison ivy cream. The formula includes effective calming ingredients like shea butter, almond oil and natural camphor. The product is steroid-free. 

What you should consider: A few users received a product with a seal that was already broken. 

Where to buy: Sold by iHerb

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Patrick Farmer writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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