Best tip I have for you is know what it looks like, know where it’s located, and don’t touch it!! Knowing where it grows near you is nice, so even if the leaves aren’t out you don’t accidentally touch it. EVERY part of the plant is poisonous and it’s poisonous even if it’s a dead or wintering over plant. It’s also awfully poisonous if you burn it and you breath it in (that is probably an emergency visit to you medical provider or the ER).
I thought, since many of you know I managed to get poison ivy recently, that I would update my thoughts and protocols for poison ivy. As with everything, each of us is different so what works for me may not work for you. That said, the manifestation is the same, so it’s a good beginning.
I have always hesitated to use neem oil, even though it is anti-everything and my go-to first aid oil. I have worried that the oil of the neem would help to spread the oil of the poison ivy. I have begun to test it on small patches in the past with good results. This time, I used it immediately after showing signs of a rash, because I didn’t realize it was poison ivy. Once I did realize it was poison ivy, I continued with the neem because it seemed to be helping. I used neem oil through much of my treatment, especially before the breakout began to weep.
The standard New England herb for poison ivy is jewel weed, which often grows in the same areas as poison ivy. From an herbalists perspective, this is often a clue to what an herb is good for as often the remedy grows with the poison. It’s best to use the fresh leaves in a juice or paste, which can be saved in the fridge during a breakout. I have friends who make it into ice cubes to soothe, but ice cubes can be a too extreme cold against the skin–although if it soothes a terrible moment go for it (carefully). I would have used a fresh juice or decoction, but my jewel weed wasn’t up yet and I had a jar of jewel weed vinegar. The vinegar is a nice cleanser and offers added drying benefit.
Triphala (a common Ayurvedic formula of three fruits) decoction (very strong tea) is a great go-to through all the stages. I make it fresh and then keep a jar in the fridge (so it’s soothingly cold) to use throughout the day. It’s drying for the weeping, as well as soothing and healing to the skin. You may also consider using a triphala mask to dry and draw out the poison in the early stages. Of note: Triphala is good for most blistering type skin issues.
As the inflammation rages in the skin, it also rages internally. Solution: Takra. Within ten minutes of drinking Takra my whole inside and outside was cooled and soothed. Needless to say, this was also a go-to during the acute phase.
As things began to settle and heal, I began to use the Takra externally to heal and nourish the skin. I also used my Awesome Daily Face Moisturizer (this is only in stock occasionally, please let me know if you’d like to be on the wait list for the next batch). I keep this in the fridge until I’m ready to use, as it is made from truly natural ingredients which can spoil if they are left out or contaminated. This made it a GREAT go-to for hot flushed healing skin (think also: sun burns and the like).
Lastly, patience. I feel that poison ivy is one of those things that is an exercise in patience. It’s going to last two to three weeks (depending on your susceptibility and reaction) regardless. The standard prescription is not going to make the poison ivy reaction go away much faster and in the meantime steroids can suppress the body’s ability to heal over the long term. One might feel better sooner (maybe), but the long term health of the body may be compromised. All too often, a steroid pack is followed by a second (or even a third) steroid pack if the first doesn’t work. This is a good ten (or fifteen) days of medication; my educated guess is that the body is doing the healing not the medication. For many, steroids make one feel yucky and the long term healing from side effects of a steroid can be uncomfortable and slow. Many doctors will tell you this: be patient, it will heal itself and send you on your way (no prescription in hand).
This is in no way saying that I would not have gone to the doctor if the symptoms had spread or gone into my eyes or mouth. This is in no way saying that a visit to the doctor is not the right choice for you.
Try to be discerning about what is actually needed and what will the body take care of on its own. Choosing from there (which is really hard in the midst of feeling miserable and all you want is to FEEL better) often leads us to the healthiest long term choices. To be clear, again, that decision might be to go to the doctor and when in doubt: go see your doctor, they are a part of your tool box. Use them.
Take home: the body wants to be healthy. We just need to give it the tools and space to do so. Takra. That’s all I’m going to say: Takra. Happy healing.