Poison oak and also the poison ivy and poison sumac are weeds that can be found throughout the United States except in Hawaii, Alaska, and certain desert areas of Nevada. If you stay in the US but not in the three mentioned areas, you may be well aware of the itchy rash that you can get when you come in contact with poison oak, poison ivy or sumac. If you are allergic to one of these plants, you will be allergic to all of them. The culprit is the colorless oil called urushiol found in poison oak and the other two plants as well. If you cut, crush, step on, sit on, grab, roll on, kick, or disturb these poisonous plants in any way, you will trigger the release of this toxic oil which will ooze from the damaged leaves or stem. If you just brush past the poison oak, you may not get itchy rashes but if you somehow come in contact with its oil, you would badly need medicines or home remedies for poison oak rashes. Once the poisonous oil penetrates your skin, rashes will appear within 12 to 48 hours in the form of small bumps and then will get enlarged into itchy blisters. Face, arms, hands, legs, and genitals are the parts affected most but other parts are not immune to it.
Home Remedies for Poison Oak
1. First Step: Wash with Water
As soon as you realize that the oil from poison oak plant has touched your skin, don’t waste any more time, wash it with water. If possible, place your body part that has been exposed to the toxic weed, under running water for at least 10-15 minutes. Just don’t use hot or even warm water to wash off the toxins. This will open the pores of your skin which will let more toxins to go deep into your body. If you realize that the poisonous oil has been on your hands and you may transfer it to other body parts, scrub your hands well with soap and water. Use a toothbrush to clean off the skin underneath your finger-nails. And yes, don’t forget to throw away this toothbrush afterwards.
2. Apply Ice Cold Compress to Poison Oak Rashes
Even after washing thoroughly, you may get mild rashes from poison oak oil. In such case, just a cold compress can work wonders. Apply icepack on your itching blisters for about 15 minutes every hour. However, do not use ice directly on your skin. Wrap it in a clean cloth and apply this cold compress on your rashes. You may even use packets of frozen vegetables as cold compress or use chilled rinds of fruits such as a rind of watermelon! After applying cold compress, do not rub towel but allow to dry off the water itself. Icy cold compresses can only work on mild poison oak rashes, for serious ones, you need to apply certain advanced home remedies.
3. Jewelweed Herbal Remedy for Poison Oak
A weed to kill the poison of another weed! Jewelweed is nature’s endowment to counter poison oak and ivy. Jewelweed plant, also known as impatiens and touch-me-not has tall, translucent stems and hanging, trumpet-shaped yellow or orange flowers. The one with orange flowers is effective for poison oak. Just when you recognize that you have come in contact with poison oak, use jewelweed, sometimes even found in the same place where poison oak is. Break the stem of jewelweed and rub its juice onto the affected area. This prevents rashes from developing on your skin. However, if you have already developed rashes, you will need to do some more work.
- Jewelweed leaves- a handful
- Water- 1-2 glasses
- Ice cube tray- 1
- Boil the water.
- Chop the jewelweed leaves and add them to water.
- Brew the mixture till you see dark orange liquid.
- Strain and pour the liquid into ice cube tray once it cools down.
- Place the ice tray in the freezer to get ice cubes of jewelweed.
- Use these ice cubes wrapped in a clean cloth to get relief from itching and rashes resulting from poison oak or ivy allergies.
4. Baking Soda Remedy for Poison Oak
There is an acid in the urushiol oil found in poison oak which causes the allergic reaction and gives rashes and blisters on your skin. It is said that baking soda neutralizes this acid giving you relief from the itchy rashes. It will give you a soothing compress to cure your inflammation. Also, this sodium bicarbonate may pull off fluid from the blisters and allow them to dry. There are more than one way to use baking soda mixed with water to give yourself relief from poison oak allergy.
1st Way of Using Baking Soda: Make a Paste
- Baking soda- 3 parts
- Water- 1 part
- Mix baking soda with water to make a thick paste. You may use some more water if needed.
- Apply this baking soda paste on your rashes.
- Leave it till it dries off completely.
- The paste will develop cracks in it. Let it flake off.
- Repeat this 3-4 times a day.
2nd Way of Using Baking Soda: Use Wet Pads
- Baking soda- 2 tsp
- Water- 1 liter
- Gauze pads (sterilized)- few of them, as per requirement
- Mix baking soda with water.
- Soak the gauze pads in this water and saturate them.
- Cover your poison oak blisters with these gauze pads.
- Leave for 10 minutes.
- Repeat this four times a day.
- This method is more appropriate for red oozing blisters. However, do not apply the baking soda soaked gauze pads on or near your eyes.
5. Vinegar-Baking Soda Remedy for Poison Oak
Just as baking soda-water mix can speed up the healing of poison oak rashes, vinegar-baking soda mix too does wonders and faster than any other remedy.
- Baking soda- 2-3 tsp
- Vinegar- enough to make paste and a little more to dab on
- Mix baking soda with vinegar to get a paste with a consistency of peanut butter.
- While you take shower, scrub this paste over your oozing blisters. You will feel great relief when you do this.
- After scrubbing for a while, wash this off with water.
- Dry off the area gently.
- Now apply a little vinegar over the scrubbed-cleaned blisters. You will feel a burning sensation for few seconds but get relief from itching within a few hours.
6. Oatmeal Remedies for Poison Oak Allergy
Some studies have shown that oatmeal contains chemicals called avenanthramides and phenols. Both of these chemicals have anti-inflammatory properties. Another chemical, Saponins, found in oatmeal is a natural cleanser which means it can absorb dirt, oil as well as odor. Apart from this, oatmeal has avenacins, which is understood to have antifungal properties. Oatmeal also balances the pH level of skin giving you relief from itching and dry skin. With so much of benefits, oatmeal is considered a super remedy for poison oak. Take an oatmeal bath to cure the itchy rashes and blisters. You will need colloidal oatmeal for this. Colloidal oatmeal is prepared by grounding it into a fine powder and because it doesn’t sink to the bottom of your tub but remains suspended in the water, it can do more good to your skin.
1st Way to Use Oatmeal for Poison Oak: Take Oatmeal Bath
- Colloidal oatmeal- 1 cup (If can’t find this, blend some standard oatmeal to get its powder)
- Tepid water – to fill the bathtub
- Before preparing oatmeal bath for poison ivy or oak, ensure that the water is not too hot, it should be tepid. Too hot a water can draw out all moisture from your skin aggravating the already itchy and inflamed skin.
- Add the colloidal oatmeal (or ground oatmeal) to the bath water as it flows from the tap so that it gets mixed with the water perfectly.
- Soak in this water for 10 minutes.
- You may feel sticky after oatmeal bath. If so, rinse your body with some more tepid water.
- Pat dry using a towel. Never rub your skin.
- Take oatmeal bath 2-3 times a day.
2nd Way to Use Oatmeal for Poison Oak: Oatmeal-Salt Paste
If you don’t feel comfortable with an oatmeal bath, you can use oatmeal paste to get all its benefits for curing poison oak allergies.
- Oatmeal- 3 cups
- Salt- 2 tsp
- Warm water- enough to make a paste
- Add oatmeal and salt to warm water and make a smooth paste.
- Apply this oatmeal paste on your poison oak rashes as if it was a pack.
- Leave for about half an hour.
- Repeat this twice a day.
- This will not only cure the rashes but also the infection you get from the toxic weeds.
7. Acorn Wash Remedy for Poison Oak
Acorns or oak nuts are an important part of diet for many birds and rodents like squirrel and mice. This is due to the nutritious components of the acorn which also contains bitter tannins. When you leach acorns by boiling them, you get a water which is antiviral and antiseptic. This water with tannin properties is used as a wash for rashes, skin irritations, burns, cuts, abrasions and poison ivy as well as poison oak.
- Acorns- a handful
- Water- 1 liter
- Take the water in a vessel and boil it.
- When the water starts boiling, add acorns to it.
- Let it boil for sometime.
- When you see that water has turned dark brown, put off the flame.
- Strain and let the water cool down.
- Wash your body part affected with poison ivy or oak using this water.
- You may also make ice cubes out of this water by filling the ice tray with it and freezing it. Chilled acorn cubes will not only give you relief from itchy rashes but also cure your poison oak allergy with tannins in them.
8. Plantain Remedies for Poison Oak
Plantain is one of the common herbs that can be found in your backyard. The broad leaves of plantain has a chemical within it which is called allantoin. This chemical has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Native Americans use these plantain leaves traditionally to get relief from pain of bee stings and insect bites as well as to stop itching of poison ivy and allergic rashes apart from healing sores and bruises.
Ways to Use Plantain Herb for Poison Oak
- Take 8-10 plantain leaves, preferably from a shaded spot so that you get good fluid content. Chop or tear these leaves into small bits. Placing these bits on your palm, rub them with the help of your thumb for about 3-4 minutes. Within this time, fluid will start coming out of the leaves. Now rub the wet mass on areas affected by poison oak or ivy. You can feel the difference in just a few minutes when the blisters turn brown from red and you no more feel itchy. If needed repeat 2-3 times a day.
- To get relief from stinging sensation, use bentonite clay and fresh leaves of plantain plant to make a paste with the help of some water. Use it like a poultice on the affected area.
- Make a tea by steeping chopped leaves (or dried herb) of plantain in hot water. Once it cools down, spray this tea on your rashes to relieve pain and burning sensations.
- Take some dried or fresh leaves of plantain and steep this in apple cider vinegar. Let it steep for 3-4 weeks. Strain and store for future use. Of course, you cannot start making this vinegar infused plantain after you get rashes. This has to be made as a preventive measure for not only poison oak but also to sooth skin from itching, burning and pain. Apply this vinegar to your rashes to heal them quickly.
9. Banana Peel Remedy to Get Rid of Poison Oak Itch
If you want to get fast remedy to get rid of the itching that comes with poison oak and ivy rashes, use the humble banana peel. It seems that the minerals contained in a banana peel soothes the itching skin affected by rashes and blisters. This is a traditional remedy but highly effective in the sense that you get relief from itch within a few minutes of using a banana peel. However, this is a temporary relief. For healing poison oak allergy completely, you should take help of either the home remedies for poison oak or visit doctor for medicine.
- Just rub the inside of a banana peel over the rash for sometime and your itch will go for about 2-3 hours. Then repeat if required.
- You may also take a piece of banana peel (enough long to cover the affected area) and apply its inside on the rash. If required, use tape to hold the banana peel at place. Leave it for 20-30 minutes before removing the peel.
10. Coffee Remedy for Poison Oak
While the debate whether coffee is good or bad for health seems to go on for a while, there is no doubt that coffee can be a good remedy for poison oak allergy rashes. The chlorogenic acid in coffee is a natural anti-inflammatory compound and seems to work in healing these rashes.
Ways to Use Coffee for Poison Oak
- Take a cup of cold black coffee. Pour this coffee on your rashes and blisters to wash them with it. You will be relieved from irritation you get from rashes.
- Take half a bowl of baking soda. Pour cold black coffee over it enough to make a thick paste. Apply this paste on your rashes. Leave it to dry off naturally. Repeat this 2-3 times a day and you’ll get rid of poison ivy rashes within two-three days.
11. Turmeric Remedy for Poison Oak
Turmeric is a fantastic herb, a natural anti-inflammatory which has strong antibacterial properties. Combined with lemon juice, it can do wonders to heal your poison oak allergy.
- Turmeric powder- 1 tbsp
- Lemon juice- enough to form a paste
- Mix turmeric with lemon juice to make a paste.
- Apply this paste to your rashes. Take care with the paste as turmeric tends to stain everything yellow.
- Leave it for about 15 minutes.
- Wipe off the paste from your skin and wash off.
- Do this 1-2 times a day.
Your poison oak or ivy will dry up and nearly vanish in just a day!
12. Ayurvedic Remedy for Poison Oak Remedy
Ayurveda, the ancient Indian medicine, talks about turmeric and such herbs as neem (margosa) and manjishtha (rubia cordifolia) in high regards. While turmeric is a fine antibacterial and anti-inflammatory herb, the other two are excellent blood purifiers that benefit your skin marvellously. Here is a recipe of an Ayurvedic Lepa (poultice) that can get you rid of poison oak.
- Turmeric powder- 1 tbsp
- Neem powder- 1 tbsp
- Manjishtha powder- 1 tbsp
- Fuller’s earth (or any other mud)- 3 tbsp
- Water- enough to make a paste
- Neem oil- few drops
- Mix turmeric, neem, manjishtha and fuller’s earth.
- With the help of water, make a smooth paste.
- Apply this to your rashes.
- Leave it to dry off naturally.
- Once dried, wipe off the paste with dry hands. Do not wash off.
- Apply neem oil and massage with gentle hands.
13. Potato Remedies for Poison Oak
Apart from being an excellent anti-inflammatory substance, potato also soothes your skin. You will realize this as soon as you apply a potato poultice on your skin affected by poison oak or ivy.
- Potato- 1
- Water (optional)- as per requirement
- Wash the potato thoroughly and place it in the blender.
- Blend it to gate a paste. Use a little water if required. Your paste should not be runny though. It should be thick.
- Apply this paste to your affected skin and cover with a clean cloth or a plastic wrap.
- Leave it for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Wash off.
14. Peppermint Essential Oil Remedy for Poison Oak
Many essential oils that cure inflammation and itching can be used to treat poison oak. Peppermint oil is one of them due to its menthol which relieves the painful burning and itching accompanying the rashes.
Ways to Use Peppermint Essential Oil for Poison Oak
- Add a few drops of peppermint essential oil and 1 tablespoon of salt to 1-2 cups of green clay. Pour enough water to make a paste. Apply this paste to rashes and leave for about half an hour. It will absorb the plant oil and thus dry off the rash giving you relief from itching.
- Dilute peppermint essential oil with some other carrier oil like coconut or olive oil in 50:50 ratio. Apply this to your rashes for relief.
- Apply a cold compress. For this, fill a basin with cold water. Add 8-10 drops of peppermint essential oil to this water. Stir well and soak a towel in this. When the towel gets fully saturated, wring out to discard the excess water from it. Place this soaked cold towel on the affected area. If needed, cover this with a plastic wrap and one more towel on the top. Leave for 1-2 hours before removing it.
Some other essential oils that are good to heal rashes from poison oak, poison ivy and sumac include chamomile, cypress, geranium, and lavender oils. Always dilute the oils 50:50 before applying 4-6 drops to the skin rashes. You may apply these oils 2-3 times a day. Cold compress should be applied twice a day. Never apply a hot compress to poison oak rashes.