How to Get Rid of a Stinging Nettle Rash

Stinging nettle causes a painful, red rash that feels like a bee sting or insect bite

Medically reviewed by Brendan Camp, MD

A walk outside can turn painful if you come into contact with stinging nettle, a plant covered in fine hairs that irritate the skin. If you brush against the plant, the hairs release an acid into your skin, causing a stinging nettle rash that lasts for about a day. Though nettle tea benefits include treating allergies, arthritis, and heart conditions, it’s best to get stinging nettle benefits from tea or supplements, rather than direct contact with the plant.

Continue reading to learn more about how to recognize a stinging nettle rash, how to treat it, and how to get nettle tea benefits without any painful rashes.

Stinging Nettle Benefits

Stinging nettle has its benefits, including relieving joint pain, reducing allergies, and increasing the ability to urinate. However, nettle leaf has different benefits from the root of the plant. Coming into contact with the plant causes a painful stinging nettle rash, so it’s best to sip nettle tea or a stinging nettle supplement if you’re trying to utilize the power of the nettle plant.

<p>Osobystist / Getty Images</p>

Osobystist / Getty Images

What Does a Stinging Nettle Rash Look Like?

The nettle leaf causes a red, raised rash in any areas that come into contact with the plant, which grows throughout the U.S. and Europe. The rash doesn’t spread but can last for about 24 hours. Unlike other rashes from weeds and plants, stinging nettle rash appears soon after you come into contact with the plant.

Some people will experience hives when they brush against stinging nettle. That’s reflected in the plant’s scientific name. Urticaria is the medical name for hives, and the scientific name for stinging nettle is Urtica dioica.

Stinging Nettle Rash Symptoms

Stinging nettle rash often feels like a bee sting or ant bite. Symptoms of stinging nettle rash can include:

  • A sudden pain

  • Stinging

  • Burning

  • Itching

  • Tingling

  • Raised red rash

These symptoms usually last for several hours, but resolve within 24 hours.

How to Treat a Stinging Nettle Rash at Home

If you or your child comes into contact with stinging nettle, follow these steps:

  • Wash the area with soap and water.

  • Apply an over-the-counter cortisone cream to reduce inflammation.

  • Avoid scratching or rubbing the rash.

  • Cool the skin with a cool compress or ice pack, which may help with symptoms.

Unfortunately, there’s no standard treatment for stinging nettle rash. The rash is not an allergic reaction, but rather a skin irritation (unless a person also has an allergy to stinging nettle, which is rare). That means antihistamines and allergy medications won’t be particularly helpful. However, you can try these home remedies:

  • Mix baking soda and water, applying the paste to the skin.

  • Apply aloe vera gel.

What Are the Complications?

In most cases, there are no complications from stinging nettle rash. The rash usually resolves on its own within a day.

However, in rare cases, people can be allergic to stinging nettle. That means they may experience symptoms of an allergic reaction in addition to the skin irritation rash that stinging nettle causes in most people. If you have an allergy to stinging nettle or experience any changes to your breathing or a spreading rash, call your healthcare provider.

In rare cases, aggressive scratching can cause bleeding, which increases the risk of infection. Rather than scratching, try to treat your itch by applying a cool compress.

How Long Does a Stinging Nettle Rash Last?

Stinging nettle rash often lasts for several hours. Most people no longer have symptoms 24 hours after they touch the plant.

How to Prevent a Stinging Nettle Rash

Preventing stinging nettle rash can be tricky because the hairs on the plant can get through gardening gloves. If you know you’ll be working in an area with stinging nettle, wear thick, protective clothing and gloves.

When you’re trying to avoid stinging nettle, consider these facts about the plant:

  • It’s most common in previously cleared land, including old farmland and along trails and streams.

  • It can grow 6 to 8 feet tall, but even a small plant can cause a significant sting.

  • Stems and leaves are all covered in stinging hairs.

If you need to remove a large portion of stinging nettles, you might consider hiring a gardener or landscaper with experience cleaning the plants.

When to Contact a Healthcare Provider

Most people don’t need to see a healthcare provider when they have a stinging nettle rash. However, if you experience any concerning symptoms, including changes to your breathing, a rash that spreads after it first appears, or changes in cognition, call your healthcare provider.


A stinging nettle rash is a painful, red rash that appears after you come into contact with the stinging nettle plant, which is found throughout the U.S. The acid in the tiny hairs covering the leaves and stem of the plant causes the rash. This causes a sudden, painful burning sensation like a bee sting or insect bite. The stinging can last for hours but usually resolves within a day. If you come into contact with stinging nettles, wash the area of contact well and apply a cool compress to help manage your pain.

Read the original article on Verywell Health.