Poison oak and poison ivy are two plants that can cause inflammation and intense itchiness when they come into contact with your skin. Outbreaks are highly contagious. Epsom salt can give you effective, temporary itch relief; however, it doesn't treat the infection itself. In persistent and extreme cases of poison oak or poison ivy, seek medical care.
What Is Epsom Salt?
Epsom salt is a compound made from a mixture of magnesium and sulfate. It occurs naturally and is especially common in seawater. It is a common household item, and you can find it in most major supermarkets or drugstores.
An Epsom salt paste is a simple way to soothe the itching caused by poison oak or poison ivy. Boil 2 cups of water. Add 2 tsp. Epsom salt. Stir until the salt dissolves. Remove the solution from the heat, then let it cool in the fridge for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, clean the area around the affected skin with water, and gently pat it dry. When the Epsom salt solution has cooled, put on a glove and soak a paper towel in the solution. Gently pat the skin with the paper towel and let it soak. This method is helpful if your rash is minor or only covers a small portion of the skin. You can use the same solution again and again. Never use the same paper towel, as it can spread the poison to other parts of your body.
If the infection is more severe and covers more of your body, compresses may be the solution. You can apply these easy-to-make compresses anywhere on the body. Fill a sink with cold water, and mix in some Epsom salt (2 tbsp. salt per 1 cup of water). Soak several washrags in the water, then place them on the affected areas of skin. Use string, if necessary, to lightly tie the compress to your arms and legs. Leave these compresses on for no more than half an hour.
Sometimes poison oak and ivy infections can cover entire parts of your body. In these cases, Epsom salt baths can provide relief to your entire body. Start by filling a bathtub with warm or comfortably hot water. Add 2 cups Epsom salt to the filled tub. The salt will dissolve quicker if you add it while the water is running. Soak in the bathtub for about 15 minutes but no more than 20 minutes.