Can I Get Relief from Poison Ivy in a Swimming Pool?


If you spend time outdoors, you might have heard the phrase "leaves of three, let it be." Poison ivy is recognized by its three smooth-edged leaves. If you are unlucky enough to brush up against it before recognizing it, there is an 85 percent chance of developing a rash. Home remedies to provide relief to a reaction to poison ivy include taking a dip in a swimming pool.

Poison Ivy

  • Nine different subspecies of poison ivy grow across North America, from Nova Scotia to Mexico. Oil in the leaves of poison ivy can cause contact dermatitis for anyone who gets it on his or her skin. If you are exposed to poison ivy, you might experience redness and swelling of the skin. In severe cases, blisters can form and ooze pus. The rash will itch. Scratching it does not make the rash worse, but you can damage the skin and put yourself at risk for bacterial infection with germs under the fingernails.

Swimming Pools

  • Topical medications to treat a reaction to poison ivy cause the skin to contract. This reduces inflammation and helps relieve the incessant itching. Chlorinated water in swimming pools also causes the skin to contract. The cool water also will feel good on irritated skin and the itch-relieving properties of chlorine will linger after leaving the pool.


  • The redness and itching of poison ivy is caused by the oil of the plant, not exposure to someone with a rash. You can swim in a pool with other people and they will not be at risk for developing the rash. However, if you have open wounds from scratching, you should not be in a swimming pool.


  • Poison ivy rashes usually fade without treatment in about two weeks. You can swim during that time for some relief. Outside of the pool, cold compresses or oatmeal-based lotions can help. Creams that relieve itching and allergic reactions also may help ease symptoms. In severe cases with many blisters, speak with a doctor. Medication such as prednisone reduce inflammation and in some cases stops allergic reaction.


  • "Poison Ivy, Pets & People"; Heidi Ratner-Connolly, Randy Connolly; 2010
  • "A Field Guide to Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Poison Sumac"; Susan Carol Hauser, William L. Epstein; 2008
  • Photo Credit poison ivy image by Predrag Marcikic from
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