Surprisingly Effective Treatment for Poison Ivy & Oak

Surprising Remedies

Discomfort, especially the intense itch from poison ivy or poison oak rashes, is often behind the most inventive of remedies and entire web sites are devoted to personal trial-and-error treatments. Among the most surprising treatments for dealing with encounters with these poisonous weeds are liquid antacid (such as Maalox or Milk of Magnesia) vodka, household bleach and banana peels.

Tummy-relief antacids are so common in most family medicine cabinets that they may be most readily available when there is no stock of other more orthodox treatments for poison oak or ivy itch. Dabbed on the rash in layers, allowing each to dry in between, is reported to give almost instant relief of itching and begin the healing and drying of blisters almost immediately. (New moms might want to take note that this has also been a pediatrician suggestion for babies' diaper rashes.)
When immediately poured over the skin area exposed to poison ivy, the antiseptic property of vodka, preferably 100 proof, washes away the oil that produces the rash, therefore avoiding the allergic reaction. In addition to other 100 proof alcoholic beverages, ordinary rubbing alcohol, which might be more readily available in the home first aid kit or medicine cabinet, will work equally well.

Household bleach removes the offending oils in the same way as vodka if applied to the skin immediately upon encountering poison ivy or oak, and acts as a quick cure to clear up the rash within as few as two to three days. Carefully dab a mixture of 1/4 cup of bleach and 3/4 cup of warm water bleach solution on the area with a wash cloth or cotton balls.

Bananas won't always be handy and can't be kept in stock for the purpose of treating the itch from poison ivy and oak rashes, but dabbing the rash with the moist inside of their peelings helps reduce the itch and speed the healing.


While unorthodox treatments may be effective, there may also accompanying cautions and your family physician should always be your primary source for treatment recommendations.

Dr. William L. Epstein, MD and professor of dermatology at the University of CA School of Medicine cautions against "washing" exposed skin to poison oak or ivy with a washcloth as that may spread the urushiol oil around on a greater skin area. Another warning from Dr. Epstein: "Also, never dab alcohol on during your hike or picnic, because it removes your protective skin oils and the exposure you get to the poison ivy around the next bend will be worse."