Poison Ivy

Here's how to recognize it, get rid of it, and recover from it, fast.

By Suellen May


Protect Yourself

Wear long sleeves, pants, closed shoes, thick gloves, and even a mask when removing poison ivy and poison oak.

  • IvyBlock is an FDA-approved lotion that, when applied before exposure, prevents skin that comes in contact with urushiol from developing the rash. It's available at drugstores.
  • Wash all clothes, even shoelaces (without touching them with your bare hands), after working near poison ivy and poison oak. Use hot water, detergent, and two wash cycles.
  • Wipe down any surface that has come in contact with the oil (tool handles, doorknobs, shoes, etc.).
  • Your pets aren't sensitive to urushiol, but if it gets on their fur and you pet them, you can get a rash.

Already a Victim? Fight Back
Wash it away. Do not wipe with water—urushiol is an oil, so it does not dissolve in water. Rinse the affected skin with isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol, then with cold water. Don't wipe. Wiping spreads the oil.

Treat it.
Over-the-counter topicals such as Tecnu, Ivy Complete, Zanfel, or Burt's Bees Poison Ivy Soap and Res-Q Ointment also remove the oil and relieve itching. Without treatment, the infected area will blister within a few hours to three days. The fluid in the blisters will not spread the rash, but any clothing that has come into contact with the oil will. Oral antihistamines can help, if needed.