Published on May 26, 2022

Browntail Moth Rash Prevention and Treatment

Browntail moth caterpillars are brown with orange spots on its back. The caterpillar hairs can cause red, itchy skin rash similar to poison ivy.


  • Avoid areas infested with browntail moths. 
  • If you are around areas infested with browntail moth caterpillars or material that may have browntail moth caterpillar hairs on them, wear gloves, long-sleeved and -legged garments, and hats; and cover other areas of your body. 
  • Perform yard work after a rain or wet the area to keep browntail moth caterpillar hairs from getting airborne. 
  • Avoid swimming in water around browntail moth infestation as the hair may float on the top of the water.

General Treatment

Wash any exposed areas of the body with mild soap and water after exposure. 

Treatment for brown tail moth rash is similar to that for any contact dermatitis. 

  • Apply topical cortisone ointment or cream (such as 1% hydrocortisone that can be obtained over the counter). 
  • Take non-sedating antihistamines (such as loratadine/Claritin®, fexofenadine/Allegra®) during the day
  • Take a sedating antihistamines (such as diphenhydramine/BENADRYL®) at night if needed. 
  • Avoid heat and hot water. Take cool to lukewarm showers. 
  • Use colloidal oatmeal (such as AVEENO®) for baths and compresses.  
  • Non-scented, non-medicated skin moisturizers applied a few times daily may be helpful. 
  • If rash is severe and/or covers large areas with swelling, redness and pain see your primary care provider as prescription medication may be warranted. 

Brown Tail Moth Rash Spray

Combine the following ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well 

  • 1/2 30 gm tube of hydrocortisone 1% cream (e.g. Cortizone-10)
  • 1/2 30 gm tube of diphenhydramine hydrochloride 2% and zinc acetate 0.1% cream (e.g. Extra Strength BENADRYL®)
  • 1/4 30 gm tube lidocaine 4% cream (e.g. Aspercreme®)
  • 1/4 cup witch hazel solution

Apply twice a day to affected area. Refrigerate. Discard after 30 days.