A poison ivy rash is caused by an allergic reaction to poison ivy, a three-leaf plant common in the United States.
The rash is caused by urushiol, a sticky oil found in poison ivy sap. This substance is odorless and colorless. If your skin is exposed to urushiol, you may develop a rash called allergic contact dermatitis.
This can happen if you touch live or dead poison ivy plants. It can also happen if you touch animals, clothes, tools, or camping gear that have come into contact with urushiol. The rash may show up immediately or within 72 hours.
In the United States, a poison ivy rash is the most common allergic reaction. About 85 percent of people will develop a rash when they touch urushiol. The rash itself isn’t contagious, but the oil can spread to other people.
Symptoms of poison ivyexposure include:
Topical calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream can reduce itching. You can also take an oral antihistamine.
Some people use apple cider vinegar for poison ivy rash. As an acid, this popular home remedy is thought to dry up urushiol. This is said to relieve itching and speed up healing.
There isn’t scientific research on how apple cider vinegar treats poison ivy rash. However, people have reported relief from using it and it has been used for many years.
If you think you’ve been exposed to poison ivy, wash your skin immediately. Use soap and cool or lukewarm water. Avoid hot water, which may worsen irritation.
Try to wash your skin within five minutes of exposure. During this time, the oil can be removed.
If you decide to use apple cider vinegar after washing, you can try one of these popular methods.
One way to treat the symptoms of poison ivy rash is to use apple cider vinegar an astringent. Astringents cause the body tissues to tighten, which may help relieve irritated skin.
Some people use undiluted apple cider vinegar, while others dilute it first. Either way, test it on a small area of skin first to check if it causes any irritation.
To apply as an astringent:
- Soak a cotton ball in one teaspoon apple cider vinegar or a 50/50 mixture of apple cider vinegar and water.
- Apply it on the rash.
- Repeat three to four times a day.
According to anecdotal evidence, itching will decrease as the apple cider vinegar dries.
If you have open blisters, avoid this home remedy. Apple cider vinegar can irritate open wounds.
Some people find relief by using a wet vinegar compress. This method is said to soothe itching and swelling.
To make a vinegar compress:
- Combine equal parts apple cider vinegar and cool water.
- Soak a clean cotton rag in the mixture.
- Apply it to the rash for 15 to 30 minutes.
- Repeat this a few times a day, using a clean rag each time.
It’s also a good idea to wash used rags separately from your clothes.
A vinegar spray is ideal if you don’t have cotton balls or rags.
To make an apple cider vinegar spray:
- Mix equal parts apple cider vinegar and water.
- Pour the mixture in a spray bottle.
- Spray onto the rash several times a day.
The acidity of apple cider vinegar may cause chemical burns and irritation.
If you want to use apple cider vinegar, test it on a small area of your skin first. Stop using it if you develop a reaction.
Additionally, apple cider vinegar may only provide temporary relief. You might need to keep reapplying it to feel long-lasting benefits.
There are many home remedies for poison ivy rash. These treatments are thought to soothe itching, dry up the rash, and reduce the risk of infection.
Other natural treatments for poison ivy rash include:
Typically, a poison ivy rash will go away on its own within one to three weeks. After the first week, it should begin to dry up and fade.
Visit a doctor if your symptoms get worse or don’t go away. You should also seek medical attention if you experience the following symptoms:
- fever above 100°F
- difficulty breathing
- difficulty swallowing
- blisters oozing pus
- rash that covers a large area of your body
- rash on your face or near your eyes or mouth
- rash on your genital area
These symptoms may indicate a severe allergic reaction or skin infection. Additionally, rashes on your face, genitals, and large areas of your body might need prescription medication.
Poison ivy rashes are the most common allergic reactions in the United States. Classic symptoms include redness, itching, blisters, and swelling. Generally, the rash goes away after one to three weeks.
You can try apple cider vinegar as a way to reduce the symptoms of poison ivy rash. It’s said to provide relief by drying up the rash. It can be used as an astringent, compress, or spray. However, the relief is usually temporary, so you may need to keep reapplying it. Apple cider vinegar may also cause skin irritation.
See a doctor if your poison ivy rash gets worse or doesn’t go away. You may be experiencing a severe allergic reaction or infection.