If you’re suffering with poison ivy symptoms, such as a rash, try using a natural remedy. Natural remedies are highly effective, delivering soothing and healing properties to relieve your symptoms. One of the most efficient natural remedies are essential oils. Essential oils offer more than just a pleasant aroma – they deliver many health benefits to aid your well-being. In this guide, you’ll discover the best essential oil for poison ivy treatment, alongside the benefits of using natural remedies.
What is Poison Ivy?
Poison ivy is a common plant. The roots, leaves and stems of this plant contain urushiol – an oily compound that many people are allergic to. When contact with the plant occurs, they often develop a rash, redness, swelling, or blisters.
How Does Poison Ivy Cause an Allergic Reaction?
The oily compound, urushiol, is both colorless and odorless making it difficult to detect. It easily sticks to your skin, clothing, equipment, pet fur, tools, toys, etc. The oil doesn’t need to come directly into contact with your skin to cause an allergic reaction.
If urushiol sticks to your clothing and then you touch that area, an allergic reaction could occur. When your skin touches the urushiol, your body’s immune system reacts (this is what’s known as allergic contact dermatitis).
According to the American Skin Association, around 15 percent of people won’t suffer with a reaction to poison ivy 1, meaning 85 percent will struggle with symptoms.
An allergy occurs via sensitization to poison ivy after the initial exposure has taken place. When future exposure happens, the immune system is activated, with inflammation developing.
In addition to touching the oil from the plant, an allergy may occur via smoke inhalation if the poison ivy is burned.
While poison ivy isn’t contagious and can’t spread from person to person or from one part of your body to another, you can have a delayed reaction to the plant, especially if an affected area hasn’t been cleaned.
The Symptoms of a Poison Ivy Allergic Reaction
The severity of a reaction will depend on your skin’s sensitivity in addition to the amount of oil your skin came into contact with.
Symptoms can include;
- Itchy skin
- Difficulty breathing (from smoke inhalation)
A rash may occur a few hours after coming into contact with the plant. However, it may take up to ten days after for a rash to develop. Your symptoms normally last for one to three weeks, but if it’s your first reaction to the plant, it can take three to four weeks for the rash to subside.
Finding an essential oil for poison ivy will help your symptoms to subside. If you’re struggling with a high fever, extensive rash, scabs, a rash over your eyes, mouth and genitals, trouble breathing, or no improvement in your symptoms after a few weeks, it’s vital to visit your doctor immediately.
Natural Treatments for Poison Ivy Symptoms
To protect yourself from a poison ivy rash, try these natural treatments. Your immune system will naturally respond to a rash, but these treatments will enhance your body’s reaction to improve healing.
Knowing the appearance of poison ivy will help to prevent contact from occurring. Poison ivy plants are usually green, but may have hints of yellow or red. The plants have three, medium sized leaves and are commonly found in many areas across the US. You’ll most likely find poison ivy in a vine or shrub, with tiny hairs on the base. While found where wooded areas and open land meet, you’ll can find the plant close to the beach, golf courses, campsites, garages, at the side of the roads, and close to hiking trails.
If you’re working or roaming outside and suspect you may come into contact with poison ivy, there are several creams and lotions that can be used to lower the risk of developing a rash. These creams wont guarantee protection from a reaction but they may lessen the severity of a rash.
Wash your skin
Washing your skin after coming into contact with poison ivy can eliminate traces of the oil to prevent an allergic reaction. It’s best to wash your skin with a strong soap as soon as contact has occurred. You also need to wash under your finger nails as traces of oil could remain there otherwise. Additionally, avoid using a cloth or towel for drying your skin as traces of oil could transfer and cause a reaction later on.
You may use a strong commercial wash to cleanse your skin, but hand soap or body wash is usually enough to eliminate the poison ivy oil and reduce the risk of symptoms.
Protect your hands and wash items
Wearing protective gloves when coming into contact with poison ivy is effective, but have you ever considered that the oil on your gloves could cause a reaction?
The oil from poison ivy may penetrate latex gloves to cause a rash. However, other types of gloves require washing. While this won’t completely prevent a poison ivy rash, it will reduce the risk. Ensure you wash any gloves or clothing that touches a poison ivy plant. Wash any clothing that has been exposed as the oil can linger for weeks. Additionally, wash any surface that may have been exposed to poison ivy – this could include gardening equipment, door handles, taps, etc.
Apply a compress
If your rash has developed into blisters, apply a cool compress over the affected area. Adding a little lavender essential oil for poison ivy prevention will help to ease the discomfort. To help alleviate any redness or swelling, apply a cold, damp towel (alternatively you can use a towel with ice) to inflamed skin and gently press on for 15 minutes at a time. Repeat every three to four hours. You can also soak your compress in apple cider vinegar, black tea or another natural treatment to help alleviate the inflammation.
Use anti-histamines or natural treatments
Coming into contact with poison ivy is very likely to cause a rash in most people. Having a rash increases the probability of redness and itching. If your skin is feeling very itchy, try using a natural solution.
Natural treatments and anti-histamines include;
- Bentonite clay – a natural compound to dry up blisters and reduce swelling. Simply apply bentonite clay over the affected area, leave to dry for five to ten minutes, and gently rinse off.
- Oatmeal – a bath soak with oatmeal helps to soothe blisters. Oatmeal is packed with anti-inflammatory properties to relieve itching and redness.
- Echinacea – taken as a supplement or used as a tincture, echinacea works as a natural anti-histamine. As a tincture, simply mix one part echinacea with three parts water and gently apply with a compress.
- Jewelweed – this plant boasts an essential oil which reduces the reaction to poison ivy oil. If you can’t find jewelweed, try witch hazel instead.
- Essential oils – using an essential oil for poison ivy is highly effective. Using natural topical treatments and an essential oil for poison ivy, such as lavender or tea tree, helps to reduce inflammation. Placing a couple of drops on a compress and gently applying to the affected area helps to soothe and calm your skin. If your skin is very sensitive, try adding two to three drops of an essential oil for poison ivy with half a teaspoon of coconut oil. This helps to dilute the oils so its gentler on sensitive skin.
- Supplements – taking a vitamin B12 or vitamin C supplement increases your overall immunity which can aid the prevention of poison ivy symptoms.
Using a diluted essential oil for poison ivy treatment will help with to alleviate uncomfortable symptoms. There are varying oils that can be used to aid a poison ivy rash.
First, let’s look at the benefits of using natural remedies over conventional methods for treating this type of reaction.
The Benefits of Natural Remedies
Natural remedies, including essential oils, offer an array of health benefits.
- Well-known ingredients
Many natural ingredients have been used to treat an array of ailments for centuries. Egyptians have been known to use aromatic oils as early as 4500 B.C 2. Essential oils, in particular, have been used to treat sleep problems, colds, acne, stress, anxiety, nausea, and more.
- Solve your health problems naturally
Instead of using prescription drugs or other synthetic treatments, using an essential oil for poison ivy or other health issues gives your body the opportunity to heal naturally. This helps to boost your overall health and well-being without suffering from any side effects that synthetic medicines may present.
- Support a healthy lifestyle
Using natural remedies helps to support a healthy lifestyle to enhance your overall wellness. If you eat healthily, exercise regularly, avoid smoking and have a limited alcohol intake, the chances are that you enjoy healthy living, and using natural treatments help to support your lifestyle.
- Low cost
Natural remedies, like an essential oil for poison ivy, are cost-effective as they can be used for a wide range of ailments.
Which Essential Oil for Poison Ivy Treatment?
If you’re searching for the best essential oil for poison ivy, you’re probably wondering which oils are the most effective in treating a rash, redness, itching, blisters or swelling.
Here are the best essential oils to choose from for treating poison ivy symptoms;
- Peppermint oil
- Tea tree oil
- Oregano oil
- Calendula oil
- Coconut oil
Let’s take a look at these oils in more depth.
- Peppermint oil
Peppermint oil for poison ivy boasts cooling properties which can calm the itching associated with the plant, diabetes, hives, or bug bites. A study in 2016 found that peppermint oil in combination with petroleum effectively relieved itching 3.
Frankincense for poison ivy helps to heal inflammation, alleviating any redness, swelling or discomfort around the affected area. Additionally, it helps to boost the immune system and strengthen your skin. Studies have demonstrated that it’s steroid type structure contributes to its calming effect on irritation 4.
- Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is packed with antibacterial, antiseptic and antifungal properties, meaning tea tree oil for poison ivy treatment is the perfect remedy. This essential oil for poison ivy aids the relief of inflammation, redness, and swelling.
- Oregano oil
Oregano oil has anti-inflammatory properties to aid irritated skin. Oregano oil for poison ivy helps to soothe your rash, calm redness and swelling, as well as reducing itching.
- Calendula oil
Calendula has been used for centuries due to its incredible soothing properties. It also aids dryness and pain to alleviate your symptoms.
Chamomile is well-known for its soothing abilities and it can be used to alleviate irritated skin. Several studies have evaluated the use of chamomile and recognized that this essential oil is highly effective in delivering anti-inflammatory properties beneath the skin, even when used topically 5. Additionally, a systematic review of chamomile found that it’s also beneficial for treating gastrointestinal issues, PMS, osteoarthritis in the knee, and diabetes 6.
Juniper is an excellent essential oil for poison ivy treatment. Juniper is especially known for alleviating itching. Research has also shown the anti-inflammatory properties of juniper essential oil for treating human skin conditions 7.
Lavender is a highly effective essential oil for poison ivy. A study in 2012 noted the anti-inflammatory effects of lavender oil at cellular skin level 8, while other research has noted its antioxidant and analgesic properties to alleviate pain 9.
Myrrh has commonly been used to treat inflammation. Research has found that myrrh is able to supress inflammation, as well as demonstrating that both myrrh and frankincense oil are able to supress the development of arthritis in rats, more effectively that treatment via drugs 10.
Pine tar constituents are regularly found in soaps that treat poison ivy symptoms. A 2017 study found that certain types of pine boast wound-healing, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties 11, making it a beneficial essential oil for poison ivy.
- Coconut oil
Coconut oil for poison ivy treatment is highly effective as it aids healing and alleviates itching. Coconut oil can be applied topically by warming it up between your hands and then gently applying to your rash. However, coconut oil can be used as a carrier oil for dilution of an essential oil for poison ivy relief.
How to Use an Essential Oil for Poison Ivy
Using an essential oil for poison ivy rash is relatively simple. Just ensure that you never use an undiluted oil on your skin.
Here are the differing ways you can use an essential oil for poison ivy;
Make a compress
Add 5 drops of oil to a cup of warm water and stir. Place a clean cloth in the mixture and apply to your rash. Repeat several times per day.
Add to lotion
Mix a few drops of an essential oil for poison ivy to your favorite lotion. Apply this topical treatment to your rash several times per day.
Hints and Tips to Follow
Follow our hints and tips to ensure you create an optimal treatment to relieve your poison ivy symptoms;
- Only use 100 percent essential oils which are high quality. Low quality oils won’t be effective and won’t aid your symptoms like a high quality can.
- Do a small patch test before applying an essential oil to the skin. Apply this to a small patch of skin that isn’t affected by poison ivy. Leave for 24 hours to see if you notice any side effects. Some people with sensitive skin may not redness or a rash. In this case, don’t apply the oil to your affected skin.
- If your rash appears worse after using an oil, discontinue use and speak to a doctor or medical professional.
- Never consume an essential oil orally. Many oils are toxic if taken orally and can cause ill health.
- Consult a doctor before using an essential oil if you’re worried about its use.
Using an essential oil for poison ivy can significantly reduce your symptoms, whether you have a rash, swelling, itching or blisters. Several oils offer beneficial effects for alleviating inflammation – just remember to patch test the oil first to ensure your skin isn’t overly sensitive.
- Charousaei, F., Dabirian, A., & Mojab, F. (2011). Using chamomile solution or a 1% topical hydrocortisone ointment in the management of peristomal skin lesions in colostomy patients: results of a controlled clinical study. Ostomy-Wound Management, 57(5), 28.
- Silva, G. L., Luft, C., Lunardelli, A., Amaral, R. H., MELO, D. A., Donadio, M. V., … & Mello, R. O. (2015). Antioxidant, analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of lavender essential oil. Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências, 87(2), 1397-1408