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Soothing Remedies for Poison Ivy and Poison Oak 
by Mary M. Alward August 04, 2005

Black Nightshade

The leaf of the black nightshade plant (not the deadly nightshade plant) can effectively treat the symptoms of poison ivy and poison oak. Crush it and mix it with milk and then apply it to the rash. Milkweed can also be used, as it can treat both rash and itching effectively.

Liquid Shoe Polish

White shoe polish contains pipe clay and it can be just as effective as calamine lotion because it also contains zinc oxide. Liquid shoe polish should be shaken well before applying to the rash.

Poison Ivy and Poison Oak

Poison ivy and poison oak generally have clusters of three shiny leaves. However, different regions of North America have different varieties, so be alert when walking in wooded and grassy areas and along fence lines.

Don’t believe that you can’t be exposed to poison ivy and poison oak in winter. The poison remains in the roots and stems, though no leaves are present. Also be aware of pets who roam. They can carry poison ivy and poison oak into the house on their coats.

When to Treat

Never treat poison ivy or poison oak with alcohol while you are in an area where you might be further exposed. Alcohol removes protective skin oils, which can cause subsequent exposures to be worse.

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol can remove urushiol oil from your skin, but never use a cloth to apply it. Cloths will only pick up the urushiol and spread it further. Pour rubbing alcohol onto your skin instead.


Water causes urushiol to become inactive. No soap is needed. Just rinse well immediately after becoming exposed, if possible. Pour water over the affected area, or if you are in a place where there is a hose, hose the area down.

Wash Exposed Items

You will need to wash all things that come into contact with poison ivy and poison oak. This includes your dog, backpack, clothes and anything else that has come into contact with the plants or their juices.



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