I am currently in the midst of my annual (or so it seems) poison ivy epidemic. The first time I had a bad breakout of it was maybe 20 years ago and I was prescribed steroids for it. Now that I have other tools in my tool chest, I am able to treat it myself using Chinese herbs. I’m on day two of my herbs and the blisters are definitely expressing themselves, the itching is subsiding by the hour and that makes me very happy.
In Chinese medicine, the rash associated with poison ivy is a form of what is called “Wind on the skin” – Wind being the influence that is characterized by quick movement to new locations. Itching is one way that Wind shows itself in the body. The fluid-containing pustules, combined with the redness, are “damp Heat.”
I use herbs from the following categories to help me with poison ivy: cool-acrid-release-exterior (these are “spicy” but cooling herbs that open the pores), cool the Blood (heat in the Blood can cause eruptions such as the bumps of a rash), resolve toxicity (a fancy way of saying “get rid of the irritants,” like urushiol), dispel wind damp (helps to relieve itching and dry the pustules), drain damp (more pustule drying), and extinguish Wind (stop the itching!!).