Best Poison Ivy Cream - What to Look For and Product Recommendations

Chad Birt

Written by Chad Birt on Thu Dec 21 2023.

Ointment.

Poison ivy causes an allergic reaction in up to 85% of people. You’re bound to encounter poison ivy at one time or another If you and your loved ones spend any time outdoors. 

While you might not be able to avoid a rash,  the right poison ivy cream can provide immediate relief. This guide explains what to look for in a poison ivy cream and features some of our best-selling products.

What is Poison Ivy Cream?

Poison ivy cream is a topical ointment that relieves the symptoms of a poison ivy rash. 

Plants like poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac contain an oily resin called urushiol. When this substance makes contact with the skin, it triggers an allergic reaction.

The symptoms of a poison ivy allergy vary from person to person, but telltale signs include red, irritated skin, painful bumps, and blisters that ooze and crust over. 

What Ingredients Should a Poison Ivy Cream Have?

Dr. Jill R. Beavers-Kirby, a doctorate-prepared nurse practitioner with nearly 40 years of experience in healthcare says that there are several ingredients to look for when shopping for poison ivy cream, including:

Calamine

Calamine is an over-the-counter medication that contains zinc oxide and iron oxide. When combined, these ingredients treat mild itchiness and skin irritation. 

Cortisone

Cortisone is a natural hormone produced by the body. When added to lotions and creams, “it stops the itchiness, redness, and swelling that comes from the release of histamine in the skin cells,” explains Dr. Kirby, who’s also the author of Gerontology and Geriatrics for NPs and PAs: An Interprofessional Approach. Histamine is a chemical released by the immune system that triggers allergy symptoms (for example, itchy skin). 

Zinc Oxide 

Zinc oxide is a skin protectant. It relieves irritation from cuts, rashes, and burns. Most first-aid skin products contain zinc oxide and/or cortisone to relieve inflammation and soothe the skin.

Caregiver Tip

Choose a poison ivy cream with natural ingredients if you or your loved one have sensitive skin. Dr. Kirby says that natural remedies like tea tree oil, aloe vera gel, and oatmeal baths are less likely to cause further irritation.

Carewell’s Best Poison Ivy Creams

The products featured below are a mix of our best-selling and top-rated poison ivy creams. Where applicable, we’ve included real user feedback under the heading “Hear It From a Caregiver/User”.

1) Major Calamine Lotion

“Calamine is my favorite recommendation for poision ivy because it’s been around forever,” Dr. Kirby says. “It’s reliable, works well every time, and dries a light pink color. Remember not to scratch the affected area. If you do, wash your hands afterward so you don’t spread the itch.” 

This lotion comes in a six-ounce bottle. It contains calamine and zinc oxide, making it ideal for treating mild and moderate itchiness.   

Major Calamine Lotion, 6 oz., 00904253321, 1 Each
Major Calamine Lotion, 6 oz.

Price: $5.39

2) THERA Calzinc Body Shield 

This body shield ointment from THERA is formulated to treat diaper rash and chafing. Even so, many of our customers say it’s great for treating poison ivy rashes. Calazinc contains hyaluronic acid, zinc oxide, and calamine to help soothe wet, cracked, and itchy skin. This lotion also contains natural ingredients, like chamomile and ginger root extract, to reduce inflammation and promote healing.

Key Benefits & Features

  • Latex free

  • Helps manage moisture and relieve minor skin irritation

  • Lightly scented

  • Provides instant itch relief

Hear it from a caregiver

“This product is amazing. I had a heat rash and it cleared up within hours. [I] showered, put it on and I am amazed.”

- Kem P. 

Thera Calazinc Body Shield, 53-CZ4, 4oz, 1 Bottle
Thera Calazinc Body Shield

Price: $7.99 - $74.99

3) Sunmark Calamine Lotion, Skin Protectant

This calmoine lotion from sunmark is very similar to Major’s offering above. Both products contain the same ingredients and provide instant relief for oozing, weeping skin caused by poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. 

Save more than $2 on your order by signing up for our Autoship program!

4) CareAll Maximum Strength 1% Hydrocortisone Anti-Itch Cream

This hydrocortisone cream from CareAll is our best-selling itch-relief product. It provides instant relief for mild and moderate skin irritations, including insect bites, poison ivy rashes, and contact dermatitis. 

 

Hear it from a caregiver

“Works great, recommended by my doctor! I have seasonal allergies and easily get itchy rashes on my hands and face, especially during the summer when weeding. My allergist told me to buy over-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone cream for my face. This works great and isn’t too harsh for thinner facial skin.”

- Patti H. 

5) Chamosyn with Manuka Honey Multi-Purpose Moisture Barrier Skin Protectant

Remember how we said you should choose a product with natural ingredients if you or your loved one have sensitive skin? This multi-purpose moisture barrier skin protectant with manuka honey is the perfect solution.

It contains several ingredients, including chamomile, aloe, and manuka honey. These compounds relieve burning and itchy skin and speed up healing. The zinc oxide barrier seals in moisture, preventing chafing and irritation.

Key Benefits & Features:

  • Paraben-free, making it a great choice for people with sensitive skin

  • Contains menthol to relieve stinging, burning, and itching

  • Safe for use on any skin, including sensitive areas, like the face and genitals

Hear it from a caregiver

“I love this product. It works better than anything I have ever used.”

- Roxann J.  

6) IvyX Itch Relief Towelettes

These wet wipe-like skin cleansers are designed to safely and effectively remove urushiol from the skin. The urushiol in poison oak and poison ivy clings to the skin and can’t be removed with standard soap and water. 

IvyX itch relief towelettes are “wetter than water” and safely remove the plant oils before they can cause a rash, blisters, or itching. 

Key Benefits & Features:

  • Travel-size cleanser towelettes can easily be added to a first-aid kit or travel bag

  • Individually sealed packages

  • Immediate skin protection after contact with poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac

7) Benadryl Original Strength Itch Relief Cream

Benadryl itch relief cream contains diphenhydramine (an allergy relief medication) and hydrochloride (a topical pain reliever). It also has zinc acetate, a medication that relieves itching and pain caused by minor skin irritations. When combined, these ingredients offer a one-two-three punch of lasting itch relief. 

Key Benefits & Features:

  • Specifically formulated for outdoor itches

  • Safe for people ages 2 and older

  • Perfect for outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and picnics

Need Help Choosing a Poison Ivy Cream? Contact Us!

Here at Carewell, helping family caregivers is our passion. Ensuring your loved one has everything they need to thrive isn’t always easy. Get in touch if you have questions about creating a first-aid kit or selecting a poison ivy cream. Our friendly Care Specialists know about all the products we carry and can help point you in the right direction. Call (800) 696-CARE or send an email to support@carewell.com.

Best Poison Ivy Creams - Commonly Asked Questions

1) How often should I apply poison ivy cream if my loved one has a rash?

The frequency that you need to apply poison ivy cream depends on various factors, including the severity of the rash and your loved one’s symptoms.

“Always follow the directions on the package when applying poison ivy creams,” says Dr. Kirby. “Some creams can be applied as often as needed to relieve symptoms, but most creams are applied three to four times daily.” 

2) What can someone do to avoid a poison ivy rash in the first place?

Dr. Kirby says there are several things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones from a poison ivy rash, including:

  • Learning to identify poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac (e.g. leaves of three, let them be

  • Wearing long sleeves and long pants when hiking or spending time outdoors

  • Applying a barrier cream, such as IvyX before going outside

  • Bathing as soon as you come inside

These steps won’t necessarily prevent exposure entirely, but they can significantly reduce your risk. 

3) Do I need to do anything before applying a poison ivy cream?

Before applying poison ivy cream to your or your loved one’s skin, clean the area with soap and warm water first.

“If you (the person applying the cream) is allergic to poison ivy, be sure to wear gloves,” adds Dr. Kirby. “Otherwise, you’ll end up with poison ivy too.” 

4) Is there any way to treat poison ivy symptoms without an ointment or cream?

Yes. There are several home remedies that you can use to relieve poison ivy symptoms if you don’t have a cream or ointment on hand.

“Cool compresses really help alleviate symptoms and are a go-to for my family,” explains Dr. Kirby. “Also, if the rash is widespread or in areas that may not be easily treated with something topical, soaking in an oatmeal bath is a great way to alleviate the itch.” 

Try Aveeno Soothing Oatmeal Bath Treatment.

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Chad Birt
Chad Birt

Chad Birt is a freelance medical writer who resides in Astoria, Oregon. When he isn't behind a keyboard, you can find him hiking, camping, or birdwatching with his wife Ella and their two dogs, Diane and Thoreau.