Q. I recently spent an entire day weeding our overgrown yard. Unwittingly, I pulled a lot of poison ivy. Over the next few days my arms and shins were covered with itchy rash.

I treated this with Benadryl at night and Ivy-Dry in the morning. The spray usually wore off around 11 am, making for a rough afternoon at work.

I did a search for poison ivy remedies and found some people use banana peels for temporary relief. I always pack a banana as part of my lunch, so I had nothing to lose.

I was surprised to find it was effective. Right after rubbing the peel on the affected area, the skin turned red and the poison ivy itch subsided in a few minutes. The relief lasted about three hours. It worked as well as some of the over-the-counter remedies I was paying $9 for.

A. We’ve never heard of using banana peels for poison ivy, though readers have suggested using them for warts and hemorrhoids.

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  1. AJ

    Tried this…. burned like hell!!
    I’ll stick with my Odor Free Aspercreme (4% Lidocaine ) which heals the area numb and itch free for hours. No more peels for me BUT the banana was tasty!

  2. Christine

    I just contracted poison ivy for the first time. I found the banana-peel remedy here on People’s Pharmacy. I will attest to the fact that it works much better than (at least for me) hydrocortisone cream and tee tree oil.

  3. June
    Hampton, CT

    This spring’s first foray into the yard also turned out to be this year’s first contact with poison ivy! I knew I’d be in constant contact with the ivy as its removal was part of my yard job, but this is the worst case I’ve ever had; lots of blistering, oozing, itching every few hours. It’s affecting the better part of the inside of my forearms. Ew.
    I washed with Technu within a couple of hours of exposure, but I was already getting the rash. I’m confident that the Technu removed the urushiol but the allergic damage was already done.
    Since then the rash really spread on my forearms; I also purchased Technu Extreme which provides relief from the itching for a while, and as I bring a banana for a work snack I’m going to try it! (Drum roll, please…)
    Hmm, not sure but it seems to be cooling… but there’s quite a bit of stinging AND itching, two things that I want to get rid of! But perhaps the outcome will after all prove that banana peel is a great fix. The jury’s still out on this one… ;)

  4. Nique

    I am very allergic to both poison ivy and poison oak. When I read about this treatment, I tried it at around 8 this morning after 3 days of painful, burning itch at the wrist area from an encounter with a dried poison oak vine last Thursday and many different topical treatments. It’s now 5:30 pm and my wrist is still cool, comfortable and itch free!!! The one thing I did do before using the banana peel was to wash my wrist good with warm salt water and pat it dry with a paper towel.
    I have contacted several of my fellow gardening friends to let them know about the wonderful banana peel remedy.

  5. usaneill

    The photo is poison ivy. Poison ivy and poison oak look very similar and both have urushiol that is an allergen. Poison sumac is also a common allergen to people who are allergic to the ivy and oak. It looks more like Virginia creeper.

  6. LaNell B.

    I know it works for my now ex husband and his huge/highly allergic family. They first heard from me after I read it about 20 years ago.

  7. S Ervin

    Has anyone tried banana peels to rub on the skin to treat arthritis? Are there any other home remedies that might work?

  8. Joe S.

    Cleaning is important..
    Here’s my two cents on poison ivy. A week and a half ago my son and I went to help our neighbor remove a large rotted trunk that fell across his driveway. I KNEW it was covered in poison ivy. It’s been a long time since I had gotten any except for a bump or two. I dressed up in long sleeves, long pants, and gloves. I warned everyone what we could be in for. My neighbors are of dark skin and his girlfriend got only a few bumps, he showed no signs, and my son got three on his finger.
    As of right now I have over 20% of my body covered. Back of neck, under sides of arms, both sides of chest starting to converge over the stomach. Inside of both legs and spotted around the ankles. Both wrist were the first to show and back of neck. I had come straight in and gently removed my cloths at the washer and went straight for the shower. In my opinion here is what I did wrong. I used regular soap and hot water, thinking it would cut the oil. Nope, it spread it and opened the pores. After much research on the net and talking to the dermatologist. I should have used dish soap and cool water.
    Probably started with alcohol wipes or tissues and wiped exposed areas and thrown them away. I should have thrown the clothes and gloves away also. It would have been cheaper than the doctor. According to what I’ve read it does not get into the blood (I thought it did). It is a contact poison. There is enough poison in a quarter of a teaspoon to infect all the allergic people of the planet. It only takes a tiny bit. Days later when I thought it was in my blood and spreading. It seems it was not all off of me and rubbing ointments and bath cloth had only spread it. I rewashed everything again including myself this time with dish soap. It seems to have stopped spreading.
    I put off going to the doctor (stubborn). After getting worse I went and he gave me seven tablets of prednisone 10mg. One tablet daily in AM. and Clobetasol Propionate ointment .05%. After one day I could see the deep red turning lighter. Thank God. I’m sure it will be weeks before I’m normal. The first shower I had used baking soda, vinegar, salt, and several other things I had read about. The hot water showers did relieve the itch so I could sleep. I learned to use the hot water and then cool to get the heat out of the flesh and slow down the oozing. Hope this helps someone. Cleaning is the most important thing. Joe

  9. wjb

    There are two kinds of poison ivy. The picture looks like it might be one of them. I was surprised that I got poison ivy when I wandered into a patch of harmless looking stuff in the woods. I’m more familiar with the darker colored viney variety. This stuff apparently grows low to the ground. As well poison ivy leaves change color at different times of the year. Who knew?

  10. bas

    You use the inside part of the banana peel, the riper the banana, the better. I knew a lady who had poison ivy all over her arms and neck. She was miserable and banana peel was the only thing she tried that gave her relief.

  11. Antropia L.

    Banana peel turns out to be a great anti-inflammatory once again. I wonder if it also works on poison oak(?) Thank you.

  12. LJFP

    I have poison Ivy for the 2nd time in 9 weeks. It hurts quite a bit. I have been researching and blending and blending different items to try and get rid of it again. I REALLY don’t want to go to the Doc and pay 50 bucks for steroids.
    As of this moment I am sitting with a banana peel on various infected areas of my legs. It burns worse. My thoughts here are… is it supposed to burn that bad? Should I be JUST rubbing it? Or is there something I am missing?

  13. M

    Interesting. Should one use the outside of the banana peel (yellow)? Or the inside (white)?

  14. MH

    I had the same experience of weeding and coming in contact with poison ivy. It only touched my arm but, by the time I came into the house, my arm was red, itchy and had a rash. I tried over the counter cortisone cream which virtually did nothing. On the web, I found various natural remedies, including banana peel. I always have bananas in the house and thought I might as well try it. The results were immediate and amazing! I’ve also tried it on mosquito bites but it wasn’t as effective. On the other hand, thanks to the net, I found that white toothpaste works on those.

  15. Mike W.

    I am very susceptible to poison ivy and once the skin begins to react from contact, usually overnight, the rash and its incessant itchiness embroil my mind in an all consuming tug-of-war between reflex (scratch it ! ) and the conscious knowledge of the consequence of scratching (it only spreads the rash and makes it worse). Once when I was vacationing on Cape Cod ( Yes poison ivy even grows in sand along with beach grasses ) I got it, or it got me.
    Well, my mother-in-law had a big “jug” of Vodka. She knew that putting Vodka ON the rash, not IN the patient, would do a lot to alleviate the itching. By golly, it worked great and fast too. The relief just didn’t last long enough and after a couple or three hours when I requested another treatment, I found out she had other medicinal uses for her Vodka, namely a concoction called Cape Coders. So after one more application I was sent to search for my own medication.
    There was nothing close at all, but the last dab did do till I found some old time pink Caladryl lotion. P.S., I am so glad that it was colored to be inconspicuous upon ones summer tanned skin…NOT.

  16. SED

    Best relief Ive ever had is from Zanfel, available OTC. It’s a scrub that gets the urushiol off skin, and can be used anywhere on the body. Urushiol is the substance from the poison ivy that binds to the skin and continues to cause symptoms… you have to reuse it sometimes, but it resolves the itch instantly.
    The other trick that really works for itching (bug bites, etc.) is to use a hair dryer on the spot and get it as hot as is safe (don’t burn yourself)…

  17. JJ

    Interesting….. But the picture doesn’t look like poison ivy to me, so I hope no one uses this as a guide for what to look out for.

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