Before I had kids I loved to go on weekend long kayaking trips. One downside to spending so much time on the water though, is that poison ivy likes to lurk at the water’s edge. Needless to say I’ve gotten pretty good at both recognizing (and avoiding) poison ivy and treating the rash it causes.
But I try to steer clear of conventional, over the counter creams and medications because they often contain yucky ingredients and don’t even work very well (which is why I make my own natural Neosporin®, too). Even as a kid I realized how much better salt and baking soda were for my poison ivy rash than traditional calamine lotion. That’s why I included them in this recipe, but the addition of the other ingredients are what makes this poison ivy remedy really shine.
However, we all know prevention is better than treatment, so here are some ways you can learn to avoid poison ivy.
What does poison ivy look like?
Poison Ivy usually has 3 broad, green leaves and grows in a spreading or climbing vine or sometimes a shrub. The immature leaves are reddish and shiny. As they say, “leaves of 3, let ‘em be.”1
How do I avoid a poison ivy rash?
If you find out that you’ve been hanging out in poison ivy you can avoid getting a rash by washing the urushiol (the oil from poison ivy that causes the rash) off of your skin as soon as possible, preferably within 2 hours. How you do that is with soap, water, and most importantly, a damp towel. The friction from the towel is what gets most of the oil off of your skin.
Applying this poison ivy lotion to the area that came in contact with poison ivy may also help absorb and remove any leftover urushiol.
How do I treat poison ivy rash?
If you do develop a rash, this lotion will help soothe the itch and inflammation, and can help shorten the amount of time the rash persists.
Heat makes the inflammation worse, so keep cool as much as possible. Apply a cold compress to the rash to soothe inflammation before applying the lotion.
This DIY Poison Ivy Lotion recipe is so easy to make and uses many ingredients that you probably already have on hand.
- 2 Tbsp Bentonite Clay (sustainably-sourced bentonite clay)
- 2 Tbsp Baking Soda
- 2 Tbsp Dead Sea Salt (sustainably-sourced dead sea salt extracted and solar dried from the saline and mineral rich marshes of the confined Dead Sea)
- Filtered water
- 2 droppers full of Plantain weed extract/tincture (optional - learn how to make a tincture here and grab plantain here)
- 20 drops Lavender EO (optional - organic lavender essential oil)
- Mix dry ingredients together in a jar with a top. Add essential oils and herbal extract and then mix thoroughly. You can store this jar in a cool dry place until you need it.
- When needed, place a tablespoon of the dry mixture in a container and add filtered water to make a paste. Add to poison ivy rash as needed.
Why does it work?
The ingredients in this poison ivy lotion work together to draw out toxins, dry up the rash, and soothe the skin.
Derived from volcanic ash, bentonite clay is known for it’s astringent properties and ability to remove toxins. It’s negative charge binds with the toxin’s positive charge and removes it, making it excellent for poison ivy relief. Bentonite clay can even be taken internally to remove toxins from the body, improve immune function, and reduce inflammation (just be sure you have a food grade version if you plan on ingesting it).
The alkalinity of baking soda neutralizes the acids in poison ivy rashes and helps relieve the itchiness and inflammation.
Dead Sea Salt
Salt is used to dry up the rash. In fact, if it’s your only option, hopping into the ocean is a great remedy for poison ivy!
Plantain Weed Extract
Plantain has been used for centuries as a wound healer. It’s astringent properties are said to help dry out the rash and it’s emollient properties soothe the skin. Fresh plantain, which you probably have growing in your yard, can be chopped (or chewed!) up and applied as a poultice to rashes and bug bites.2
Note on plantain extract…
If you don’t have plantain extract you can use plantain weed tea instead of the filtered water. Just gather a handful of plantain from your yard and simmer in hot filtered water for 20-30 minutes. Make sure that you don’t use any plantain that may have been sprayed with chemicals or by pets. Keep reading below for more ways to use plantain for skincare!
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender is great at soothing skin and smells great, too. There are many essential oils you can use to help treat skin conditions, but I like to stick with lavender because it’s safest for small children.
So there you have it! A super simple poison ivy lotion recipe that is quick and easy to make and really works. Please come back and tell me how much you love this stuff below in the comments section!
- If you are looking for more of a tincture based formulation to tackle poison ivy take a look at our DIY Poison Ivy Remedy Recipe.
- If you are looking for more ways to utilize plantain check out our Soothing DIY Plantain Salve.
- You might also want to check out our DIY Herbal Glycerites Post for healing (which also includes plantain, but no alcohol)!
Great recipe! Hadn’t thought of using the clay as a draw. We just made jewel weed oil in my herb class yesterday – great for poison ivy relief. Also, making a strong tea with jewel weed root and taking internally is extremely helpful. I have seen a horrible rash on both arms and both legs clear up in days using echinacea, jewel weed root tea, and plantain salve, plus skullcap tincture for the nerve pain. It’s amazing how well the natural remedies work.
I am going to use the bentonite clay I have and make this for my husband as a first defense, he is extremely sensitive to poison ivy. Thank you!
I hadn’t though of using skullcap. Great suggestions!