Health and Fitness

Published on April 6th, 2010 | by Jennifer Lance

5 Natural Remedies for Poison Oak

5 Natural Remedies for Poison Oak

5 Natural Remedies for Poison Oak

It’s spring time!  Along with the abundance of daffodils and wildflowers, poison oak leaves are budding their leaves full of oily residue wreaking havoc on the skin of forest lovers. Try these natural remedies for poison oak to soothe the itch.

More Natural Remedies: Natural Remedies for Poison Ivy (and how to avoid it), Natural remedies for acne, Natural remedies for sore throat, Natural cures for snoring, Natural remedies and therapies for colds and flu

From the dogs to dirty clothes, I don’t even have to go for a hike to get this annoying rash that leaves me itching and oozing for two weeks.  I’ve struggled with poison oak since I moved to northern California 17 years ago, and I have tried a plethora of natural remedies to alleviate the itch, reduce inflammation, and stop the spread. The following recommendations are listed in order of their effectiveness based on my personal experiences, and you will notice calamine lotion did not make the cut.

Natural Remedies for Poison Oak

1.  Tea Tree and Lavender Essential Oils

Last year, when I had poison oak in an embarrassing, uncomfortable location and planned to drive six hours to see the Dalai Lama, a midwife friend recommended tea tree and lavender essential oils.  At the time, I had only tea tree, and the immediate relief it offered was incredible. Ideally, these essential oils are used in a 50-50 mixture and directly applied to the rash.  I am amazed at how quickly this natural remedy speeds healing.  Lavender and tea tree oils, whether alone or in combination, are the most effective poison oak remedy I have tried.

2.  Homeopathic Tecnu Extreme

I cannot verify this product is all natural, and it does contain alcohol, but it uses homeopathy to cure itching and speed healing. It can also be used to prevent a rash from ever occurring if applied after exposure. The active ingredient in Tecnu Extreme is Grindelia Robusta, common name wild sunflower or gum plant.  I have successfully used this product to prevent rashes on my children after obvious exposure, but I do prefer tea tree and lavender oils when it comes to direct application for a rash.

3.  Oatmeal Bath

Oatmeal maybe be a tasty, warm breakfast meal; this whole grain also has skin soothing properties.  I have tried commercial oatmeal bath products that were not entirely all natural, but explains how you can make your own:

Prepare a lukewarm bath using collodial oatmeal, which are rolled oats that have been ground into a fine powder that will easily dissolve in water. Use several cups of oatmeal in the bath for the best results. Take care when climbing in to the tub, since the moisturizing agents in the oatmeal can make bathroom surfaces slippery.

Add a few handfuls of Epsom salts or baking soda to the bath in order to treat your poison oak rash with oatmeal. This will increase the effectiveness of the oatmeal bath by providing a longer period of relief from itching.

Soak in the tub for 15 to 30 minutes to treat your poison oak with oatmeal. Ensure that all exposed areas of your skin are completely submerged in the bath water the entire duration of the bath.

Hot water always feels good on my poison oak rashes, so soaking in a soothing hot tub does offer relief.  I would recommend adding lavender and tea tree to the bath for added comfort and relaxation.  I have also successfully used oatmeal baths on my dogs when they have had bad skin reactions to fleas.

4.  Aloe Vera

Every home should have an aloe vera plant to respond to burns and other skin ailments.  I find the gel is most effective near the end of the poison oak rash for healing the dry, itchy skin, but I do not find it useful during the oozing stage.  Aloe vera has a cooling effect, and it can be used near sensitive parts of the body, like the face, where other remedies may not be advisable.  It can also be taken internally to help your whole body defend against the rash.

5.  Rhus Toxicodendron

Rhus Toxicodendron is a homeopathic remedy that is actually made from poison ivy.  As recommended in a Homeopathic Medicine: First Aid and Emergency Care by Lyle W. Morgan, Ph.D., H.M.D., I tried taking Rhus Tox. as a method of “desensitization” in order to build up natural immunity.  Morgan claims this method is “90% effective in clinical use” and is accomplished by taking higher potency Rhus Tox. orally for four to six weeks prior to exposure.

When I tried this desensitization method, I had one of the worse poison oak rashes of my life.  It was all over my body, and I was miserable.  I don’t know if it was from the remedy or if I was exposed to poison oak from the dogs.  It is pretty much unavoidable where I live.  This homeopathic method may be highly successful if you can avoid exposure completely and under the care of a homeopath.

An herbalist friend of mine calls poison oak the “guardian of the forest” and reminds me to respect this nemesis of mine.   Truly the best defense is to simply use soap and water and change your clothes after possible contact, but sometimes getting a rash is unavoidable.

Common medical treatments for poison oak, ivy, and sumac involve steroids, so seeking out natural alternatives is advisable.

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23 Responses to 5 Natural Remedies for Poison Oak

  1. DancnigWind says:

    I found some pimples on my face looking like mosquito bites. I tried to burn them with iodine and Watkins and just made it worse. Three days later they turned into blisters, blisters turned into swollen wounds that didn’t itch, but gave me a lot of pressure, headaches and pain, horrible discomfort and whining. It was my first experience with poison oak (ivy) and I had no idea what happened to me and what I have to do, till my husband took a closer look at me with magnified glass. That thing looked like multiply spider bites with many little holes all over the wounds. Every year I make my own remedy from herbs for many things. I started applying it many times in day on the blisters. It dried them out, stopped itch and prevented from spreading on my face. It’s a third week now, I got rid of it completely. Ugly,ugly ugly thing!

  2. Amanda Lee says:

    I recently got poison oak, this is my first time ever getting anything like this, the reason, cause I went into a field with a friend to shoot a movie, and got poison oak all over my legs, thighs and gential area. I’m on my sixth day, already and just now is it barely feeling a bit better. Day 1, started with a small itch, behind my knees, day 2 was scary itchy, I couldn’t stop, that’s all i thought about over and over,like an obsession, it attacked, i didn’t want to eat,sleep, watch tv,, talk to anyne,i’d itch till i was raw and tore my skin, I tried everything from the drugstore, “Benadryl cream””Itch X””Cortison cream””Zanfel”, none of these worked! (for me)cause i was sooo desperate,anxious and wanted this off of me, I did home rememdies, the rubbing down with prepared oatmeal with lots of salt, put it on your poison oak blisters/ rash, while it’s still warm, let it dry, then wash off. But I finally found something that worked for me. I do the prepared oatmeal with extra salt, just follow the directions on your oatmeal package, get in tub, rub the warm almost hot oatmeal all over for poison oak rash, let it dry-about 15-30 minutes(this will be messy so have a towel ready to clean up the oatmeal that falls off) wash oatmeal off with hot water(the hottest you can stand) this opens up the pores and lets anything you put on it in, (the oatmeal), then, wash with Dial antibacterial soap, next,wash with the Zanfel (following insturctions), then, you wash that off with COLD WATER, this closes the pores, leaving all medicines in to kill the poison under your skin,NOW, (my favorite part) ahhhh, get ICE as much as you can, go back to the tub and rub, all of your poison oak down with ice, this will numb all the pain and itch. Let yourself dry, i rubbed down with ice for about 5 minutes. But numb as muchas possible.This seems to work the best for me, then I sit back and open up a beer to help me forgetit all. Hope this helps anyone out there. Poison oak, is seriously the most damaging uncomfortability mother nature can give you, No one can understand this, I ‘d tell my boyfriend and he’d touch mylegs, when I’d stricty tell him not too,and thus the itching would start back up. Wrap your most damaging blisters with guaze bandages and medical tape, don’t wear jeans, but pjs, silk if you have them. or Stretchy pants, the workout kind. And most of all Don’t itch, I know it’s hard NOT TOO, BUT, youll prevent infection and prevent popping your blisters with your fingernails. Just try your bestest not to friend. Poison Oak is a powerful plant and part of the cashew family (so intersting) try to find out information about poisonoak/sumac/ivy, youll find out how beautiful nature is, and how deadly it can be. This is just a brush of it, somepeople have ingested it or gotten it in thier eyes so be grateful. Gonna have another beer, now. Good Luck, The longest poison oak will last should be about 2 weeks, theres nothing you can really do about poison oak,but, wait for your blisters to heal, (depending on the severeity), another thing, you will be sleep deprived, the itch will be waking you up about 3-4-8 times throughout the night. Just please, don’t itch, Oh, and take Benadryl allergy pills to kill off the infection. Hope this helps in any way. Take Care xoxoxox-Amanda

  3. Daniel Cruz says:

    A good article is “Dermatologist’s Top 10 Poison Oak Cures” that can be Googled. He pretty much recommends “Sasquatch Itch Cream”, “Technu”, “IvyBlock” but has a bunch of easy (and very cheap) solutions to use also. There is also a good link to some poison oak/poison ivy resources and articles from the site.

  4. ivy poison says:

    Valuable information. Fortunate me I discovered your web site by chance, and I’m stunned why this accident didn’t happened earlier! I bookmarked it.

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  8. cheri b says:

    excellent information here. i struggle with poison oak pretty much year round, because i just can’t seem to stay indoors. winter is the worst for me, because i still have a tough time trying to identify it when it has no leaves.

    i found a nice relief at our local whole foods market: MANZANITA MAGIC. if you get poison oak real bad, try it. you’ll like it.

    also, the juice out of the stems of impatiens. i’m trying this out now, and so far, so good. i’m reading about the jewelweed, touch me not, and impatiens, and i happen to have impatiens in my backyard. i applied some stem juice to the two worst areas on my legs just for starters and the results are astounding. another must have for those allergic to poison oak.

    Don’t get P.O.ed …… Get impatiens!!!!

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  10. holly says:

    You actualy shouldn’t soak poisn oak in a hot bath or take hot showers, this could lead to poison oak spreading because hot water opens the pores on the skin, hence,, making more places for poison oak to go.

  11. Kharami Sunato says:

    Ur friends crazy. Poison oak helps people hate the forest. Liked your article 10,000%. There is one more fast cure and its methotrexate at a 1-4 level dose. Yep, chymotherapy. I had position oak during cancer care and thought… Yep, death strikes via the poision oak but the docs like, nope chemo is a cure for this horrid rash but at a heavy price to pay cell toxicity wise. Thank you for the article and yes a high power homeopathic doc. Is worth there weight in gold. I got a bad case of p.o. Cured in 7 days before where normally for 100% cure takes my up to 90 days with the spots jumping position from my blood supply, not outer re exposed. 7 days vs 90 is better. Great article-

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  18. Ned Dragston says:

    Grindelia (robusta) tincture. Works better than ANYTHING on the market. Google it (buy from an herbal store or wildcrafter, it’s inexpensive). Put it on a pad, pat the area where you picked up the oil…bingo! Done.

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  20. Larry says:

    This may sound crazy…… it did to me ….when an old timer in the woods of Oregon told me how to prevent getting poison oak
    Our family tried it and we have passed it on to many others. Everyone that has reported back to us has claimed success as well. Our daughters both do not get PO when they take this easy precaution
    All you need to do is take a teaspoon of “pectin” mixed in juice every morning until the small box is gone.
    Do this in the early spring and you should not get PO that year

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