Essential Oils for Poison Ivy – How to Relieve the Rash and Inflammation

Poison ivy is everywhere. It loves to grow along paths and trails. Gardening, forest walks and even a round of golf could put you at risk of contact with the plant. For most people what follows is very unpleasant with skin inflammation and an intense itch that can last for weeks. There are ways that you can relieve the symptoms at home without resorting to pharmaceuticals. Arm yourself with knowledge of the plant and the best essential oils for poison ivy, and you can face the great outdoors without fear.

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Most People React Adversely to Poison Ivy 

Toxicodendron Radicans or poison ivy is a shrub or vine that grows in many parts of the world. Not everyone reacts badly to poison ivy, but it is ubiquitous. Eighty-five percent of people will have an allergic reaction to the plant, of these fifteen percent will have a severe allergic reaction (1).

essential oils for poison ivy itch

Poison ivy typically causes contact dermatitis resulting in a severe itch and rash that is accompanied by swelling. The reaction can be particularly acute for those with sensitive and allergy prone skins. The most severely affected may develop blisters or hives.

So, what causes this? Poison ivy sap contains urushiol, and this is what causes the reaction. The colorless, odorless substance is very sticky and can be picked up off almost anything that has come into contact with the sap of the plant. This substance is so toxic that a tiny amount can cause discomfort amongst a large number of people. Urushiol is in the stems, leaves, roots, berries, and flowers of the plant. Poison oak and poison sumac also carry urushiol, and will likewise cause a reaction.

Never burn poison ivy on removal as exposure to the smoke can cause swelling in the respiratory system.

Know What it Looks Like, and Stay Away 

essential oils for poison ivy treatment

It is best to avoid poison ivy if you can. Know what it looks like, and stay away from it. It has three medium-sized shiny leaves. These leaves are not always green, and during some seasons, they are yellow or red. Poison ivy plants can take various forms from low shrubs to trailing vines, sometimes even hanging down from trees above.

When You Do Make Contact

Wash the area that has made contact with poison ivy as soon as you can, using warm, soapy water. The quicker you clean it, the less likely you are to have an allergic response. Remove your clothes and wash them. Detergents can effectively remove the oil. Wash your pets If you suspect that they may have been near poison ivy. Urushiol will stick to their fur, and you may pick it up.

If you have an allergic reaction, the rash will appear within twelve to forty-eight hours of the contact. The rash can last for weeks.

What Essential Oils Can You Use for Poison Ivy

Essential oils are made from the essence of plants. Some contain antiseptic qualities, and many will soothe irritated skin, and reduce the associated inflammation. Unlike pharmaceuticals, essential oils have few side effects. The best essential oil for poison ivy should relieve the itch and reduce the swelling. Essential oils are potent and must be diluted, usually with carrier oils, but in some cases, apple cider vinegar or water are used as carriers in the treatment of contact dermatitis.

#1. Eucalyptus Essential Oil for a Soothing Compress

Eucalyptus Essential Oils for Poison Ivy

Pungent eucalyptus oil comes from the leaves of a tree native to Australia. It contains menthol that will help to soothe the itch and relieve the pain that poison ivy causes. Mix five drops of the eucalyptus essential oil with two cups of Luke-warm water to make a soothing compress by applying a facecloth dipped in the formulation to the affected area. Use it as often as you need to relieve the itch.

Eucalyptus Essential Oil
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#2. Lavender Essential Oil for Poison Ivy

Lavender Essential Oils for Poison Ivy

Used since ancient times, Lavender oil is one of the few essential oils that can be applied to the skin undiluted. It is useful in the treatment of skin conditions. Research has shown that it reduces inflammation (2) and it is an analgesic (3). Use it once the blisters have burst to assist with the healing.

Lavender Essential Oil
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#3. Chamomile Essential Oil Will Soothe the Skin

Chamomile Essential Oils for Poison Ivy

Chamomile is one of the oldest herbal remedies on earth is good for many inflammatory skin conditions (4, 5) including insect bites and poison ivy. The ester oils that it contains will help to soothe the skin. Three drops mixed in an ounce of calendula gel will make a soothing lotion that you can use to treat the area.

Chamomile Essential Oil
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#4. Tea Tree Essential Oil for Poison Ivy

Tea Tree Essential Oils for Poison Ivy

Tea Tree leaves have been used by Australia’s aboriginal people for the treatment of skin conditions and injuries for hundreds of years. It has proven anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities (6). It will help to bring down the swelling and soothe the area. Research has shown that it relieves contact dermatitis (7).

Two or three drops mixed with a teaspoon of water or olive oil will help to relieve the itching and dry the blisters.

#5. Peppermint Essential Oil for Cool Relief

Peppermint Essential Oils for Poison Ivy

The menthol in peppermint oil soothes the itching and burning (8) that accompanies the rash caused by poison ivy. Peppermint is part of the mint family and has been used for thousands of years by ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks.

Add five drops of peppermint oil to a tablespoon of salt and two cups of bentonite green clay. Use water to make it into a smooth paste and then apply it to the irritated skin. Leave it for thirty minutes then rinse the mixture off with warm water. This solution will soothe the itch and reduce the rash.

Peppermint Essential Oil
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#6. Geranium Essential Oil Will Reduce Inflammation

Geranium Essential Oils for Poison Ivy

Distilled from the leaves of the Pelargonium plant, geranium oil contains anti-inflammatory properties (9) is and is anti-allergenic, so it will stop the body from producing the anti-histamines that are causing the itching rash. Mix a few drops with coconut oil and massage it into the area.

Geranium Essential Oil
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#7. Cyprus Essential Oil for Lotion or Compress

Cyprus oil helps to lessen itching, which is essential because itching leads to scratching and scratching can lead to an infection. It also has anti-bacterial (10) features that will help the area to heal more quickly.

  • Mix a few drops with coconut oil or Aloe Vera gel and apply to the itchy area.
  • Make a compress by adding a few drops of essential oil to a cup of warm water. Dip a cloth into it and hold it onto the rash. If you find relief, you can do this several times a day.
  • Make a soothing lotion by adding five drops of your favorite essential oils into an ounce of Aloe Vera

Cyprus Essential Oil
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Buying Essential Oils for Poison Ivy

It is vital that you buy only the best essential oils, as the sale and distribution of these oils are not controlled by the Food and Drug Administration. The product must be pure, it should state the country of origin, and its Latin name and it should have been produced by mechanical pressing or steam distilled.

Essential Oils for Poison Ivy and Poison Oak

However mild, contact dermatitis is not pleasant, but it is possible to find relief if you know which essential oils are best for soothing an itch and reducing the rash. The essential oils used for the treatment of allergies caused by poison ivy will be equally effective in the treatment of poison oak.

One last word of caution: If you are one of the fifteen percent of the population that has a severe allergic reaction to poison ivy and your rash is not responding to treatment you should see a doctor.

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