Herbal Home Remedies

Poison Ivy

At least one of the three poison weeds-ivy, oak and sumac-grows in just about every part of the United States. And these weeds all produce the same sort of uncomfortable reactions. Chances are, if you're allergic to one, you're allergic to all. It's estimated that as many as 10 million Americans are affected by these plants.

Poison Ivy Prevention

The best way to avoid getting poison ivy is to know what the plant looks like and to avoid touching it. It also helps to be able to recognize jewelweed, the natural antidote. Chances are, if you know what jewelweed looks like, then you'll also know what poison ivy looks like and, therefore, you'll have no need for jewelweed.

If you do have occasion to use jewelweed, crush the leaves and stems to get the flower's juice. Apply the juice on the poison ivy rash every hour throughout the day.

  • If possible, as soon as you think that you may have poison ivy, let cold, running water wash the plant's urushiol oil off the affected skin. You have a very short window of opportunity to do this-about three minutes-so just hope the poison ivy patch you stepped in is near a waterfall or a garden hose.
  • This may be a little iffy, but... if you know you're going into poison ivy territory, and if it's green-tomato season, take some green tomatoes with you.

The second you know that poison ivy sap is on your skin, cut up the green tomato and squeeze the juice on the affected area. It may save you the anguish of the poison ivy itch.

  • If you have a poison ivy rash, use a mixture made from equal parts of white vinegar and rubbing alcohol. Dab on the solution each time the itching starts. It should relieve the itching and, at the same time, dry up the rash.
  • Mash a piece of white chalk so that it's powdery. Then mix the powder in a pint of water. With a clean cloth, apply the mixture onto the poisoned parts. Repeat the procedure several times a day. This is an especially convenient cure for schoolteachers.

Waste Not, Want Not

  • Rub the inside part of a banana skin directly on the affected skin, using a fresh banana skin every hour for a full day.

NOTE: Take the leftover bananas, cut them into 2-inch pieces, put them in a plastic bag and freeze them. They're great as an ingredient in a smoothie, along with a couple of strawberries, a dollop of yogurt and 10 ounces of pineapple juice.

Or blend frozen banana pieces in a high­powered blender until the mixture is the consistency of soft ice cream and have it as a delicious, low-calorie dessert.

On a hot day, it's refreshing to munch on plain frozen banana pieces.

  • Apply fresh mud to the infected areas. At the end of each day, shower off the mud (not that we have to tell you to do that).

Keep up this daily procedure until the redness caused by the poison ivy disappears.

Natural home remedies

  • Alcohol, rubbing  Dermatologists at the University of California, San Francisco, recommend applying rubbing alcohol liberally to skin and clothing exposed to poison ivy, followed by a thorough washing with water. This can be done anytime within four hours of exposure. Alcohol is a solvent and draws the toxic oils out of the skin and clothing and prevents or reduces the rash and itching.
  • Slice one or two lemons and rub them all over your affected areas. It should stop the itching and help clear up the skin.
  • Chop four cloves of garlic and boil them in 1 cup of water. After the mixture cools, apply it with a clean cloth to the poison ivy areas. Repeat often-but that's the way it is with garlic...repeating often.
  • Place ice-cold, whole-milk compresses on the affected areas. Once the rash calms down. wash off the milk with cool water. If you don't have whole milk, put ice cubes on your skin.
  • Take an oatmeal bath to ease the itching and help dry out the eruptions.
  • Calendula lotion is very good in reducing itching, limiting the spread of the rash and helping the body to heal faster.
  • Put mashed pieces of tofu directly on the itchy areas, and bind them in place with a cloth or bandage. They should help stop the itching and cool off the poison ivy flare-up.
  • Don't be a crab, just get one. Cook the whole crab in boiling water, let it cool and then use the water to wash the poison ivy area. Or look inside the crab shell for the green stuff. Apply that green gunk directly on the rash.
  • Take Zinc, helps to repair skin tissue damaged by poison ivy
  • If none of these poison ivy remedies work and you're stuck with the itch-its usual duration is about 10 days-then rub on four-leaf clovers, and have a "rash of good luck"!
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