How to Stop the Oozing of Poison Ivy or Oak

Contact with poison oak or poison ivy can cause dermatitis in individuals sensitive to the toxic Urushiol oil contained in the plants 1. Dermatitis is an allergic reaction which can cause a mild to extreme reaction on the skin. Some people may experience only mild itching and irritation, while others may develop oozing blisters which are itchy, painful and prone to infection. The effects of poison oak or poison ivy generally appear within 10 to 15 minutes of contact with the plant and can last up to two weeks. Learn how to stop the oozing from poison oak or poison ivy contact to relieve itching and stop blisters from spreading.

Wash the affected area with soap and cold water. Gently bathe the skin rather than scrubbing the affected area, as vigorous washing can break open the blisters and cause more oozing.

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Prepare an Epsom salt wash to speed healing and stop the oozing of the rash. Combine two tablespoons of Epsom salt with a cup of cold tap water. Mix until all the salt has dissolved. Soak a soft white hand towel in the solution. Place the towel directly over the blisters and leave it there for several minutes. Allow the skin to air dry after the application, which will leave a salty residue that should not be rinsed off.

Apply cool compresses to the blisters to aid in cooling and relieving the itching. This will help you avoid scratching the blisters so that healing can occur more quickly.

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Purchase an over-the-counter topical product designed to stop the itching of the rash and help dry out the blisters. Look for a product containing zinc oxide.

Cover oozing blisters with loose, soft and clean bandages. This will help in preventing infection from developing in these areas of broken skin.


If you know immediately that you have been exposed to a toxic plant you should apply alcohol to affected skin immediately to help prevent blistering. You can use beer or another alcoholic beverage if rubbing alcohol is not available. Urushiol oil is soluble in alcohol.

Wash all the clothes you were wearing when exposed to the poisonous plant. Also, clean any other items that may have come into contact with the oily toxin. Do not worry about spreading the dermatitis to other areas of your body via the blisters themselves, as the oil has bonded with that particular area of skin and won’t transfer elsewhere. You can, however, get more blisters from exposure to inanimate objects contaminated with the Urushiol.


Obtain medical attention if your condition does not improve within two weeks or if the blisters cover an extensive area of skin.

If you experience chills, fever or vomiting following poison ivy or poison oak exposure you should see a doctor immediately.