Poison ivy is recognizable by its three-leaved configuration. In the autumn, it is usually easy to locate due to its bright red color. Unfortunately, throughout most of the rest of the year, it can be hidden amongst other plants in the wilderness.
When you encounter it, you will experience a painful, itchy skin rash. Luckily, quick action using natural remedies can be extremely helpful. In this article, we will provide information and recipes for effective poison ivy treatments using essential oils. Read on to learn more.
What To Do If You Come In Contact With Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, Or Sumac
Traces of the plant’s poisonous urushiol oils left on clothing and other surfaces can continue to cause an allergic reaction for many months. Remove all clothing that may have come in contact with the poison plant. Launder the items right away in hot water, strong detergent, and a cup of ammonia. If you are not able to clean the clothes immediately, seal them up in a plastic bag until you can get to a washer.
Flushing your skin with copious amounts of plain water immediately after contact can be very effective no matter where the rash is located. After flushing the area, follow up by washing the affected area thoroughly with mild soap and tepid water.
If you have managed to come in contact with poison ivy in a very sensitive area, such as your eyes or any mucous membranes, you should get to a doctor immediately.
For less sensitive areas, you can follow up a good washing with a natural treatment to effectively reduce the inflammation and itching caused by a poison ivy rash. Quick treatment should produce results right away. If your symptoms do not improve, or if they worsen to include blisters, swelling, and increased inflammation, you must see a doctor.
What Essential Oils For Poison Ivy Relief Are Best?
There are several effective remedies you can create using essential oils and carrier products. Some of the most effective oils include:
- Oregano Oil
- Lavender Oil
- Tea Tree Oil
These oils possess cooling, healing, anti-inflammatory properties that can be very helpful when applied in conjunction with a carrier oil or product such as:
After washing, you can make a simple treatment using any one of these essential oils (or combine a couple if you wish) and the carrier of your choice. You should use a total of 6 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil or product.
Make A Cool Compress or Spray
If using vinegar, witch hazel, aloe vera juice, or plain, cool water as your carrier, combine your essential oils and carrier, and then soak a cloth or paper towel with the mixture. Lay it over your skin rash to cool and soothe the area. Dampen the cloth as needed to relieve inflammation and itching. Helichrysum, chamomile, and lavender essential oils are good choices for this use.
If you find that witch hazel alone is too drying, you can combine aloe vera gel or juice and witch hazel 50/50 as your carrier. For more moisturizing qualities, add pure glycerin at a rate of one teaspoonful per cup of aloe and witch hazel mixture.
You can use any of these light, liquid mixtures as a spray if you wish. This is very handy for providing quick cooling and itch relief to large or hard-to-reach areas of skin.
To make your spray, simply combine your carrier (filtered water, witch hazel, vinegar, or aloe) with your choices in essential oils in an opaque spray bottle. (It’s alright to use a plastic bottle for this purpose, but it should be tinted to block out light.) Add glycerin, if desired, for its moisturizing properties.
View the following video that illustrates just how simple this can be:
TIP: Keep your poison ivy spray in the fridge for extra relief of inflammation and itching!
Make A Salve or Lotion
If you are using coconut oil or aloe vera gel as your carrier, you can apply it to the affected area as you would a salve or lotion after thorough washing. It is safe to apply one of these mixtures after using your witch hazel or water combination for ongoing relief. Cooling essential oils, such as peppermint, tea tree, and/or eucalyptus provide a great deal of relief. Oil of Chamomile is very soothing and effective in relieving inflammation.
Other Steps You Can Take to Relieve Your Skin Condition
In addition to using simple essential oil and carrier mixtures to relieve your symptoms, you should also increase the amount of vitamin C you are taking. It will help relieve the inflammation and boost your immune system to help your body deal with the toxins contained in the poison ivy plant.
Take A Soothing Soak
If your rash covers a large area of skin, you may wish to take a soothing oatmeal bath. To do this, grind up a cup of plain oatmeal very finely in your blender. Pour it into a cloth bag (an old sock or stocking will do). Tie the bag shut, place it in your bathtub, and run a tepid bath. Soak for about half an hour to soothe and detoxify your skin.
You can also take a cooling and healing “ocean water” bath. To do this, add a cup of baking soda and a cup of sea salt to cool bath water. Soak for about half an hour.
You can add essential oils to your bath if you wish. To do this, mix about a half teaspoonful of the oil of your choice into the oatmeal or the sea salt before running your bath. This will ensure that the oil is dispersed evenly in the water, rather than leaving it sitting on the surface of the water in droplets.
Chamomile, tea tree, lavender, and geranium oils are good choices for this use. About 7-8 drops of each equal half a teaspoonful.
After your bath, follow up with a combination of aloe gel or coconut oil and essential oils to soothe, heal, and moisturize your skin. You can re-apply these concoctions several times a day to help with the itching.
Reduce Inflammation Internally
Enjoy cooling herb teas to put out the fire from within. Several herbal remedy teas have strong anti-inflammatory properties and can help soothe the burning and itching. Try:
Also try it hot or with ice cubes to relax and recover from your ordeal! Avoiding spicy foods until you have fully recovered may also be helpful.
Make A Poultice
If you have a very itchy, weepy patch of poison ivy rash you can cool, soothe, and dry it with a poultice made using green volcanic clay, sea salt, and peppermint oil. (If you do not have oil of peppermint, other cooling oils such as tea tree or eucalyptus can be used.)
Just combine half a cup of the dry clay with a tablespoonful of finely ground sea salt. Add enough cool water or witch hazel to make a paste. Add 24 drops of peppermint essential oil. (Double these amounts to cover a larger area.)
Flush the affected area with cool water and pat it dry gently. Apply the poultice to the inflamed area of your dry skin and let it sit until it has dried completely.
The peppermint oil should feel cool and soothing to your skin. The salt and clay will draw out any of the irritating poison ivy remedy that may have soaked into your skin.
When the poultice has dried completely, cover it with a wet washcloth to soften the clay. When it has softened, wipe it away gently, and then rinse thoroughly with cool, running water.
Follow up with your aloe or coconut oil and essential oil mixture to moisturize, soothe, and protect your skin.
Use Over-The-Counter Preparations
Calamine lotion is an old-fashioned standby that can be very helpful in drying up angry poison ivy rash. It can be used safely in conjunction with essential oil remedies.
Jewelweed soap, lotion, and other products made using this abundant wild relative of the impatiens plant are remarkably effective. These products such as the jewelweed topical mist can be purchased commercially, or you can harvest the plant and make your own simple products. [source]
Whatever You Do, Don’t Scratch!
Even with prompt and effective essential oil treatment for poison ivy symptoms, you are still likely to experience significant itching for a few days. It is important that you avoid scratching because this will only worsen and prolong your suffering.
You can make a powerful combination of peppermint oil and witch hazel or vinegar to apply to itchy spots with a cotton ball as the need arises. To do this, combine vinegar or witch hazel and peppermint oil at a rate of about a dozen drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier in an opaque glass container.
It is important to protect this potent mixture from light so that it doesn’t lose its effectiveness. Keeping it in glass (not plastic) is also important because concentrated amounts of peppermint oil can degrade plastic. This negatively impacts the purity of the mixture.
Whenever you feel an itch, instead of scratching it, apply this mixture. Be sure to shake the bottle first and then soak your cotton ball and hold it against the affected area until the itching subsides.
Caution: Because this is a powerful mixture, you should do a small patch test on an unaffected area of skin first to be certain it will not make the skin irritation worse.
Personalize Your Remedies
If you encounter a poisonous plant, the main thing to remember is that you must remove the oils from your skin immediately. Application of a soothing mixture of natural carrier oil or product and high-quality essential oils can be very effective in diminishing symptoms and healing the damage.
To create your own personal blends, just remember that as a rule, you should use about 6 drops of essential oil (total) to each ounce of carrier product unless using a recipe that specifically calls for more or less. As you become more familiar with essential oils and their effects, you can adjust the amounts to suit your needs and tastes.
When first starting out with essential oils, avoid combining more than a few at a time. Experience and study will enable you to become more adventurous.
Play It Safe!
An allergic reaction to poison ivy oak or poison sumac can be dangerous. If you have a mild rash, you can feel safe in treating it yourself with your own essential oil home remedies. If you tend to have strong allergic reactions to plants, insect stings, and the like, you should see a doctor. An allergic reaction can cause anaphylactic shock, which is life-threatening.
Share Your Discoveries
One of the keys to prevent direct contact with poison ivy is by recognizing the plants nearby. However, some situations may seem difficult to avoid. We hope that this brief overview has provided you with a good starting place for creating your own essential oil, poison ivy remedies.