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Identify Poison Ivy - Rash, Treatment, Pictures, and Remedies for Camping with Kids

Updated on September 11, 2014
Summer, Spring, Fall, Winter Poison Ivy
Summer, Spring, Fall, Winter Poison Ivy | Source

Preventing Poison Ivy contact is the best treatment and remedy

Identifying Poison Ivy and preventing contact is the best remedy for the rash and itching, and when camping with kids - it is the adult's responsibility.

The old adage " ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," is more true then ever when it concerns kids and outdoor camping.

Know what Poison Ivy, (also Poison Oak and Poison Sumac), looks like. Show pictures to the kids. Know how contagious Poison Ivy is, and what remedies and treatments work. And most of all - know what not to do after contact, and with the rash that follows.

Poison Ivy Pictures

Note that Poison Ivy looks different in each season. These images are late spring through summer.

The link below this article shows much more detailed Poison Ivy, (and the others), pictures with more detailed information.

Summertime Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy 3-leaf cluster
Poison Ivy 3-leaf cluster | Source

Teach the kids...

... this old Boy Scout slogan:

  • "Leaves of three - Leave it be!"

Poison Ivy bushy groundcover
Poison Ivy bushy groundcover | Source
Mild Poison Ivy rashes
Mild Poison Ivy rashes | Source

Prevent Poison Ivy rash

Three simple Poison Ivy prevention tips will help ensure your camping trip is not marred by one of nature's meanest weeds.

  1. Make sure all campers, (especially the kids), know what Poison Ivy looks like - You can buy a book, (the Boy Scout Handbook has excellent plant identification sections), or you can visit for free printable Poison Ivy Identification pictures at the included link below..
  2. Scout your campsite, the perimeter and adjacent trails, and near-by wooded areas to see if there is any Poison Ivy growing - First, check out traffic and activity areas. Particularly where the tent(s) will be placed, and trails to the bathroom(s). Then check out areas the kids will likely explore. Check from the ground-level up - Poison Ivy grows; as a vine along the ground, a vine on a tree, as a bush, and it also co-mingles with other bushes and plants. Note: be especially careful of deadwood picked up for firewood, make sure it is free of the vine or leaves of Poison Ivy.
  3. Wear long pants and long sleeves when walking or hiking in areas that may have Poison Ivy growing - Unless you are confident there is no Poison Ivy in or around your campsite - and anywhere else you might go in the area or campground, make sure the kids at least have long pants on when they venture through the woods and undergrowth. Long sleeves are an added protection.

Poison Ivy treatments and remedies

How to treat Poison Ivy contact:

*Remember - it is the oil from the plant that causes the rashes, and it will be on anything that touched it; shoes, clothes, hats, ropes, toys, firewood, etc. - not just skin.

  1. Carefully remove any clothes that touched the Poison Ivy, try not to touch the contaminated areas.
  2. Flush the skin with plenty of cool or cold water - not hot water, it will only open the skin pores and make the rash worse.
  3. Pat the area dry - do not scrub the area, or try to rub the oil off, this will only spread it more.
  4. Repeat the flush-and-pat several times, the purpose is to get the oil off the skin.

Poison Ivy Remedies and Cures:

The only agreed on, almost sure-fire, cure for Poison Ivy rash is a prescription steroid treatment, but many anecdotal cures are mentioned. **Calomine lotion is not a Poison Ivy remedy.

Many experienced campers recommend skin blockers as a way to avoid a Poison Ivy rash.

Pore blockers are essentially lotions and creams that fill skin pores - blocking the Poison Ivy oil from penetrating.

All Terrain and Hylands make blockers that have gotten good reviews.

As for over-the-counter remedies, just about the only one campers agree on is by Tecnu, it's called Tecnu Poison Oak, Ivy, and Sumac Scrub, and works great. (there is a link to it below)

Natural and Home Remedies for Poison Ivy Rash:

*Note: The evidence for natural and home remedies is mostly anecdotal. What one camper claims is a great cure may not work for another camper.

  1. Aloe Vera - it is a soothing lotion that also has a drying effect on the skin
  2. Oatmeal poultice - simply put, it is cooked oatmeal patted on the skin, (after it cools a little of course), and allowed to dry. It is said to help with the itching, and drawing off the oil
  3. Jewel weed - nature's own cure. Juice from the leaves and stems can be used directly, or boiled into a tincture. It counteracts the chemical in Poison Ivy oils.


Poison Ivy Resources and Treatment Details

For more Poison Ivy prevention and treatment details visit for printable plant recognition pictures, treatment ands remedies details, and resource links to recommended commercial Poison Ivy products.

Identify Poison Ivy - Rash, Treatment, Pictures, and Remedies for Camping with Kids Comments

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    • Camping with Kids profile image

      GA Andereson (Gus) 5 years ago from Maryland, USA

      @et al - thanks for the kind comments

      @Krillco - Glad to hear from a former Scout leader - Boy Scout camping was my first experience with serious poison ivy rashes - not me, fortunately I have never had a problem, even after wading through it, but our troop did have several young campers that were estremely sensitive to it.

      Gus/Camping with Kids

      ps. I know it's a shameless plug - but there really is a lot of more detailed information at the link, especially about the difference in seasonal appearance.

    • Conservative Lady profile image

      Sheila 5 years ago from Surprise Arizona - formerly resided in Washington State

      Very helpful and informational hub. I will share with my friends as we all can use this info. Great job as usual. Voted Up and all

    • krillco profile image

      William E Krill Jr 5 years ago from Hollidaysburg, PA

      Great article! As former Scout leader, this message bears repeating, even for those of us who are experienced campers!

    • fcmosher profile image

      FCM 5 years ago from near the Equator

      This is a really good hub, well-written (thank you!) and useful. Voted up!