Poison Ivy Remedies page - link navigation:
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These remedies also work on poison Oak and Sumac because the cause of the reaction is from the same thing – an oil called Urushiol (pronounced "you-ROO-shee-ol").
The oil is an allergen, not an actual poison. It causes rashes and blisters on the skin to those who are allergic to it but anyone can get an allergy to it at any time, even if you've never had a problem before.
It has to do with how much you're exposed to it – the more exposure, the more likely you'll have a reaction.
The first thing you'll want to do in all cases before using Poison Ivy remedies is wash the oil off of your skin and anything else that may have come in contact with the oil. Any kind of soap or solvent will work fine.
The faster you wash it off, the better! Sometimes the oil will absorb into your skin and bond with your proteins in as little as 3 minutes (although some people say it takes at least 30 minutes).
Once the Urushiol bonds to the protein molecules in your skin, it can't be washed off – you just have to wait and see if you have a reaction.
If you have inhaled the smoke from burning poison ivy, oak or sumac, go to the doctor right away! Also go to the doctor immediately if it's been eaten. In either of those cases, natural remedies will not be effective.
(Clicking on the underlined name of the remedy below will take you to the page that tells you specifically how to use it for this condition. It will open a new window.)
Symptoms of Poison Ivy, Poison Oak and Poison Sumac are the same – it starts with horrible itching, and then progresses to rashes and sometimes even blisters and swelling on the skin.
This usually happens in 24 to 48 hours after contact with the plant sap. There are those few people that can have a severe reaction however – usually within 4 to 12 hours – their eyes might swell shut and blisters will begin to form right away in addition to the other symptoms.
These people need to be taken to the emergency room immediately! No poison ivy remedy will be quick enough to help that severe of a reaction.
There are reports of those who don't have a reaction for up to 14 days after being in contact with the plants.
Of the people who are allergic to these plants, only about 15% might have a reaction severe enough to need emergency medical attention.
As stated in other sections, the cause of the itchy rashes from Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac are from a sap in the plants called Urushiol (you-ROO-shee-ol). This oily sap is in every part of the plant – leaf, stem and root – and will only hurt you if you are allergic to it.
Unfortunately, between 50 to 80% of the population of North America is allergic to it. These plants grow mostly in the US and Canada and look like this (courtesy of Wikipedia):
There is a saying: "Leaves of 3 – let it be!", but as you can see, that will not work for Poison Sumac. Sumac can have leave bunches in any number.
But all of these plants are fragile and will break easily exposing the sap. Even if the plant is dead, it will still have Urushiol on it. You can get the sap on you from anything that's touched it like tools, animal fur, clothing, etc.
You can also become exposed through the burning of these plants by inhaling the smoke. Urushiol is so potent in fact, that an amount the size of the head of a pin can cause an allergic reaction in 500 people.
Even Urushiol that's hundreds of years old can cause reactions in those who are really sensitive!
In spite of some old myths about Poison Ivy, breaking the blisters or itching the rashes does not spread the poison to other parts of the body or to other people. (Although scratching too much will cause bleeding and maybe scarring.)
The only way to spread Urushiol is if the oily sap is still on your skin. Once it binds to your protein molecules, it doesn't spread.
In addition to natural Poison Ivy remedies, there has been anecdotal evidence that those who eat a lot of raw honey or raw bee pollen as part of their regular diet or supplementation can develop an immunity to Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac.
Additional support to natural Poison Ivy remedies is:
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