Fighting a Poison Ivy Allergy

poison ivy rash blisters

I consider myself fortunate that I’m not allergic to much. My kids, on the other hand, have several allergies. I have seen from their experiences what a pain allergies can be in many ways. First, there’s the issue of determining what is causing an allergic reaction. Then, you have to determine how to best treat the reaction. This can all take time, and it can be expensive as well.

Poison Ivy Rash

During the past two years, I have found out something that I’m highly allergic to: poison ivy. You can see this year’s poison ivy rash in the photo above (well, part of it. I had patches like this pretty much all over my body). In addition to looking highly unattractive, it itched like crazy! I searched online for remedies. I didn’t want to head to a doctor for one because of the expense (our insurance is such that we have to pay for everything until we pay $4000 per person annually. This results in us only seeking medical attention for severe issues, and this is one I figured I could survive).

Here are my results in dealing with my poison ivy allergy.


We had a couple of tubes of “first aid cream” around the house. Each contained lidocaine (one had 2.5%, the other 4%), which claimed to relieve pain and itching. I put this cream on all the rashy areas in the morning when I woke up, throughout the day when it itched a lot, and before bed. How did it work? Okay — but it did nothing to “cure” the rash; it was simply a way to reduce the itchiness temporarily. I found that I needed to apply the cream about 15 minute before I really noticed any relief in the itching.


I asked a pharmacist at a local store for any over-the-counter remedies that she could suggest, and she recommended hydrocortisone cream. I purchased this, and applied it as I had the lidocaine. Results? Pretty much the same. I didn’t notice that the hydrocortisone did anything to clear up my poison ivy rash, but it helped somewhat with the itching.

Apple Cider Vinegar

I read online that applying apple cider vinegar was good for alleviating poison ivy rashes. I applied apple cider vinegar to my rashes a few times a day. Again, I didn’t notice that this had any effect.

Ask a Doctor

I had to take one of my kids to a doctor for a well-check. Feeling a little desperate, I showed her my rash and asked if she could prescribe anything for it. She said no, sorry, she couldn’t do that. Darn — at least I tried.

Mometasone Furoate

I was beginning to wonder if I would be living with my poison ivy rash forever, when daughter #1, who wins the family prize for most allergies, happened to be home. She mentioned that she had a cream in her arsenal of prescription products that she thought would work. It was called mometasone furoate. I put this on the worst rash area, and the next morning, it looked quite a bit better. I asked her to get a prescription for another tube of that cream next time she goes to the dermatologist, and I’m confiscating it for my next poison ivy rash. It’s just a shame that it’s not over-the-counter.

Zyrtec (cetirizine)

My sister-in-law mentioned that she’d tried Zyrtec with a poison ivy rash and had found it helpful. I bought some (actually, I bought a generic brand. The important thing is the active ingredient, which is cetirizine). I took twice the recommended dose, or 20 mg per day. This helped quite a bit with both the itching and the redness of the rashes. In fact, in searching online I read that “at a recent Essentials for Primary Care Conference, Zyrtec was the suggested recommendation for all acute allergy treatment situations as the new and better replacement for Benadryl.

If you have severe poison ivy reactions like I do, I recommend this cream and Zyrtec (specifically, cetirizine). They were definitely the most helpful things I tried.

Do you have a poison ivy allergy? What solutions have worked for you?



5 thoughts on “Fighting a Poison Ivy Allergy

  1. Susan, I am so sorry to hear what you have been going through with your poison ivy rash. I have never had it, am I lucky or what? When we were planning on moving to Florida at retirement, so many people in northern Virginia asked why in the world would we move to Florida where there is nothing but mosquitoes to bite me? I have not had one mosquito bite since moving here in 1994!! However, not a single person mentioned red ant bites so I was not prepared to watch for them. So many times I have not watched where I was stepping or standing so I’m very familiar with red ant bites. They are just terrible and I found that apple cider vinegar helped a lot. Sometimes they must be opened and drained if they get real bad. It just goes to show the people in northern Virginia don’t know much about living in Florida!!

  2. I’ve had poison ivy, but it was YEARS ago. I would say I was probably in grade school when I last had it. As I recall, the method back then was: Just tough it out! I’m so thankful that I’m in a place where it is very unlikely I’ll ever encounter it again.

    As I read the comments, I noticed that Peg mentioned red ants. When I was in Africa, I was bitten many times by army ants. Now those things are wicked! In fact, a punishment out there for people you don’t like etc., is to tie them to an ant hill, which can be fatal. Those bites are bad!!!

  3. Oh my – that looks awful!!! I’m almost itchy just looking at it. I’ve only had one bout of poison ivy – it has been so long ago that I don’t remember how I treated it. But I scratched too much and it got into my system – even my tongue was itching – so I did go to a doctor and took whatever he prescribed.

  4. Like you, I react terribly to poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. Sometimes I think I get it from looking at the plants, and I do know what to look for! Last year I mowed the lawn just before our week and a half trip west, and you guessed it — had poison ivy problems all through Yellowstone National Park. Baking soda and water paste helps with the itching. I tried specific over the counter creams for poison ivy but they didn’t help, especially the clear ones. I bought “mud” face mask in a tube and that seemed to dry up some of the places. My chiropractor said that using tea tree soap after you’ve been outside can get rid of what ever plant matter you get into, so I’ve been using that this summer. Thanks for the Zyrtec suggestion. Hope I don’t have to use it!

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