The best poison ivy treatment

Adam Reeder

The poison ivy plant grows naturally in every state, with the exception of Alaska and Hawai’i.

Nothing puts a damper on outdoor fun like poison ivy. Those pesky "leaves of three" can take your camping trip, nature hike, or forest flash-mob from fun to done in minutes. The Toxicodendron radicans, or poison ivy, plant causes an allergic reaction in the skin that can result in red splotches, welts, and blisters that range from uncomfortable to downright painful.

Luckily, there are a number of treatments to soothe your pain and itching should you brush up again some poison ivy. You can choose between pharmaceutical and homeopathic options, so there's no need to fret if you want to use a natural remedy (even if nature got you in this mess to begin with.) Our best of the best pick, ZANFEL Poison Ivy, Oak & Sumac Wash, combats the ill effects of contact with poison ivy and related plants quickly, with minimal to no side effects. Read on to learn what to look for in a poison ivy treatment.

Considerations when choosing poison ivy treatments

Treatment vs. prevention

Although some treatments are intended to keep infection from occurring in the first place, these won't help once you've already gotten the rash. If you're already suffering from the results of poison ivy contact, then focus on the treatment side of the equation. If you're headed on a hike or other outdoor activity where you might encounter poison ivy, a preventative treatment is a good idea.

Pharmaceutical vs. homeopathic

Natural remedies have been found to be effective in treating poison ivy symptoms, so don't feel like you need to avoid them for fear of being ineffective. Keep in mind that doctors sometimes prescribe medication for the rash if your reaction is severe. If this is the case, find out if you can continue with a homeopathic treatment to supplement the medication.

Treatment types


Creams are especially helpful if you have blisters. They go far to protect damaged skin because they dry quickly. They also serve to reduce itching, so that you don't further irritate the impacted area.


Urushiol is the oily liquid in poison ivy plants that causes severe irritation to the skin. One benefit of a poison ivy wash is that it works to remove the residue of that liquid from the surface of your skin. Although it might not relieve your itching and pain as much as other treatments, it will help to stop the spread of the rash to other areas.


Lotions have a lot of the same properties as creams. However, because lotions absorb more quickly into the skin than creams, they have a shorter-lasting impact. They can also stain your clothing if you're not careful.


Most over-the-counter pills for poison ivy treatment are homeopathic. They are used mostly as a supplement to topical substances and contain extract from the actual poison ivy plant. Results with over-the-counter pills are somewhat mixed.


Most types of poison ivy treatments can be found for less than $10. If you move up to the $10 to $20 range, though, many of the remedies will have a more long-lasting or potent effect. Spending more than $25 will get you the best poison ivy treatments available. It might be worth the extra cash to save yourself from a few restless nights and irritable days.


Q. Can I treat myself for poison ivy, or should I consult a medical professional?

A. It depends on the severity of your reaction. A mild case of poison ivy can be treated at home with over-the-counter options. However, if you have an extreme allergic reaction, red spots covering your eyes, or a fever, it's best to see a doctor.

Q. What do I do if I have poison ivy growing on my property?

A. If you plan to remove the plants yourself, wear thick rubber gloves and long sleeves. You have to treat the plants with herbicide to make sure they don't return. The worst thing you can do is to burn the discarded plants because doing so makes the oil airborne, which can irritate your eyes as well as your respiratory system.

Poison ivy treatments we recommend

Best of the best: Zanfel Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Sumac Wash

Our take: The best option for the most severe allergic reactions to poison ivy.

What we like: This wash completely clears the dermis of the urushiol oil that causes the rash to spread.

What we dislike: To match this product's high success rate, it has a high price tag.

Best bang for your buck:  Tecnu Extreme Poison Ivy Scrub

Our take: This long lasting remedy is worth every penny after you react to poison ivy.

What we like: Tecnu scrub gives the same level of relief as antibiotics and steroids, without the need for a doctor's visit.

What we dislike: Doesn't work as well on blisters as it does on recently affected skin.

Choice 3: Creation Farm Jewelweed Herbal Salve

Our take: An all-natural solution to an all-natural dilemma.

What we like: The mix of tea tree oil, beeswax, and herbs gives the salve a pleasant and soothing scent.

What we dislike: Not strong enough for extreme cases that include swelling and open sores.

Adam Reeder is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.