Home Remedy for Stinging Nettle Burns

August 26, 2011

in Country Living, House & Home, How-To's

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This is what a stinging nettle looks like. You can cook with it, blanching it first to remove the sting, and then use it like spinach. You can also make nettle tea, which is a terrific source of iron.

However, it is called “stinging” for a reason, and grasping it may result in an irritation which can be described as a combination of burning and itching.

Now, there are people amongst us who do not get a reaction to nettles, and then there are the herbalist types who find special virtue in picking it with their bare hands. But that is a separate story. For the purposes of this study, we shall not concern ourselves with either demographic.

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Note, by the way, that not all parts of the plant will hurt you. Nettle leaves, if picked without their stems, are entirely harmless. Here’s me handling one above – no problem! Rather, the irritation comes from the stems, which are covered with super-fine, sharp needles/hairs that puncture your skin and transfer chemicals that trigger a histamine reaction in humans and animals.

Not being a sucker for nettle sting, and having Thing One and Thing Two to worry about, I was happy to discover the simple home remedy I am about to share. It is truly groundbreaking… I am sure that no one ever thought of it before. In fact, I have no doubt that a Nobel Prize will follow. It is called:

Soap

and

…Water!

Just wash the affected area with water and lather it good with any type of hand soap. Rub thoroughly and rinse. This seems to remove the nettle juice and put an end to the misery!

UPDATE: The readers have also shared their favorite stinging nettle remedies (these have not been tested by me personally):

  • Vinegar
  • Kombucha SCOBY
  • Burdock: squish the leaf until pulpy and rub on the affected area.
  • Jewelweed: also said to work on other types of skin irritation, such as poison ivy.
  • Plantain: people also say that it works for bee strings if you chew up a leaf before rubing it on – I have not tried this myself.
  • The juice from the nettle plant itself: and I do believe we are talking about the liquid from inside the stems – wear your gloves this time!
  • Saute stinging nettles in butter: tastes a little like asparagus! Wait, that wasn’t really a remedy – not that kind of remedy, anyway. Revenge perhaps?

Above all, it seems that certain things work for certain people, while other things work for others. So what do you think? Have you tried any of these? Or do you use something else entirely? I’d love to hear it! And, if course, a big thank-you to everyone who offered their tips already!

{ 15 comments }

1 Ghislaine August 26, 2011 at 11:50 pm

I’ve never had any luck with soap and water myself, but I’ve found that vinegar works great.

2 Calamity Jane August 27, 2011 at 8:48 pm

I’m one of those strange folk who likes to pick bare handed. I like the zinging electric way my hands feel afterwards. Except that one time when I picked 5gallons of nettles bare handed and couldn’t sleep all night for the buzzing energy coursing through my arms…that was a bit much, even for me.
Glad to see you over at my place, when I first found you I just knew we had to get together. I haven’t been hunting since we moved to New Orleans, but back home in Alaska I hunt deer and (not very successfully) ducks. Can’t wait to have a freezer full of wild meat and fish again.

3 denise August 29, 2011 at 7:02 pm

I accidentally grabbed a nettles stem last summer when digging around in my raspberry patch. Nothing worked! I tried alcohol, soap and water, vinegar, plantain, soaking with epsom salts. It took almost 3 days for the stinging to go away. I do wonder if each person has a different response to it (body chemistry?), and it makes a difference where on the body it is? Or how mature the plant is (how big the stingers are?). it does make a great tea or soup though.

4 Sofya August 29, 2011 at 7:30 pm

I love the soup myself! I think it does vary from person to person because this has to do with their particular body’s histamine response… I think. And also depends on how good your get it.

5 Wavey September 3, 2011 at 8:51 am

hot cocoa powder and water paste. This is the most delicious and best smelling cure for nettle. Your body absorbs everything put on your skin and a little chocolate surging through your veins can’t hurt anyone ;-) Also I can’t remember where I read it, but blood type does have a factor on sensitivity to these types of plants.

6 Sofya September 3, 2011 at 10:09 am

I’ll be darned Wavey, never would have guessed!

7 Mandi August 14, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Mud: Rub mud directly on affected area. Stinging goes away instantly, and the little bumps disappear shortly after too. The nice thing is mud is usually easy to find(or make) & doesn’t cost anything. My 5 yr old nephew & I just used this remedy & it worked wonderfully.

8 Angie February 16, 2013 at 10:31 am

I am in South Texas and with a very mild winter, it is everywhere. My children have gotten into it several times. In fact, my youngest got into it yesterday. I made a baking soda paste and put it on pretty thick after we washed the area with cold water. Worked wonderfully.

9 Jenny June 3, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Butter is a great cure for nettle stings, my gran and I swear by it! I stumbled across this site trying to research why…

10 Sofya June 3, 2013 at 11:17 pm

Cool, good to know!!

11 Jessa March 7, 2014 at 6:59 am

If you cannot get to a sink and soap , grab a handful of dirt and scrub the affected area with it. It gets the oil off and works for poison sumac too. I have done this many times and it works. Scrub it with the dirt as soon as you feel a sting or itch.

12 Aaron June 10, 2014 at 6:39 pm

It seems the longer you wait to treat it the longer it will take to feel better. The last time I accidentally brushed it with my leg and had a 25 minute ride home before I could wash it. I wish I had thought of mud or dirt. Well, regrettably, there’s always next time.

13 Virginia Pilecki July 17, 2014 at 2:00 pm

OMG. I have never heard of this. And let me tell you. As soon as you touch it it Burns,itches and anythingelse I can think of to describe it. I pulled up one plant and my whole hand was burning. I ran in and soaked in baking soda paste. One hour later it’s still burning. What else can I do to help?

14 Sofya July 18, 2014 at 12:16 am

Hydrocortizone cream.

15 Barbara September 24, 2014 at 6:30 pm

I got into stinging nettles today and remembered that rubbing the affected area with sword fern fronds growing nearby are supposed to help. Well, my husband brought in the wrong kind of fern the first time and even though I told him it was the wrong kind, he insisted I try it. (I was on a business call and couldn’t leave the phone.) It didn’t work, and waiting just made it hurt all the more. I ended up washing it with soap and water (did not help) and then putting a paste of baking soda and water on it (didn’t help.) Now I have taken some antihistamine (not helping yet) and will probably end up using a hydrocortisone cream later. I think the main problem is that I waited too long to treat it properly.

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