Essential Oils for Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Sumac

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Girl itching bug bite on her arm

Essential Oils for Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Sumac

As the weather keeps getting warmer, we’re all itching to spend more time outside. There are many amazing things to do in the great outdoors like hiking, camping, and gardening. But you know what we’re definitely not itching for: bug bites, sunburns, and poison ivy! While we’ve talked about how essential oils can help with bugs and sunburns before, we haven’t shared our favorite essentials oils for poison ivy, poison oak, and sumac.

There are several cooling and soothing essential oils that make caring for rashes much, much easier. Among our favorites are Spearmint, Lavender, and Roman Chamomile. Spearmint provides a gentle cooling sensation that’ll help provide relief, while Lavender and Roman Chamomile are relaxing, and soothing to the skin because of their anti-inflammatory properties. When paired with our natural Aloe Vera Jelly, these essential oils will leave your skin soothed and far less itchy. Let’s take a look at two of Plant Therapy’s soothing and natural DIY remedies for poison ivy, poison oak, and sumac.

Woman running aloe vera jelly on her arm

Soothing Aloe Rub

What you will need:

Directions:

Mix Aloe Jelly and essential oils in a squeeze bottle. Shake well. Soak a cotton ball in Apple Cider Vinegar and apply it to the rash. Let it soak in. Once dry, apply the Aloe Jelly mixture and enjoy sweet relief!

chamomile on a towel

Skin Soothing Oatmeal Bath

What you’ll need:

  • 3 cups Quick Cooking Oats
  • 3 drops Roman Chamomile
  • 1 drop Palmarosa
  • 2 Tbsp of bubble bath or body wash
  • 1 small box of baking soda
  • Muslin Bag
  • String

What you’ll do:

First, pour oats into a bag. Next, add the essential oils to the bubble bath and then to the bag of oats, remember to securely tie it with the string. Run a bath and dissolve the box of baking soda in the water while the tub is filling, then add the oatmeal sack too. Use this soak up to three times per day.

 

Have any other tried and true natural remedies for poison ivy? Let us know in the comments below!

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131 thoughts on “Essential Oils for Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Sumac”

  • I have made 3 batches of the aloe rub and another double batch this morning for a friend who is covered head to toe worse than a short while ago and he had to be put on steroids for it. He has used it 4 days with the cider vinegar and is noticing improvement. For us this recipe is working wonders.

  • On the baking soda and water paste. Yes you can use baking soda and water and a little bit of sea salt. You make it into a thin paste. rub it on the rash let it dry. When the rash starts itching again – don’t scratch. just rub the paste which has already dried on the rash. This keeps you from scratching and keeps those fingernails off the rash which can cause it to spread and cause infections. I’ve done this on more than one occasion. It’s a lifesaver then the itching gets bad and you want to scratch but know you shouldn’t

  • very helpful information., didn’t have the oils on hand, used a banana peel, oh my that helped a bunch, going to have to order the oils for next time for when i most likely will get poison ivy again. thank you for this information!

  • Just got poison ivy for the first time in a few years. This blog was so helpful! I tried the banana peel, yep it works!! Thanks for a great and helpful article!

  • Thank you for this article. My grandson just had poison oak. I wished I had seen this earlier. I will have to stock up on all the oils listed here I don’t currently have so I can be ready the next time.

  • For the aloe jelly mixture, do you put the 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar in the mixture and then apply additional vinegar to your skin or do you the 1 tsp to apply to your skin?

    1. For this recipe, you would use the 1tsp on the cotton ball to apply to the skin, it is not added to the aloe jelly + oil mixture

  • My husband just got a bad case of poison ivy last week and it’s been itching like crazy. Just lavender helped with the itch some, but I’m excited to try some of these to see if they are more helpful!

    1. I hope this information helps him out a little more! Lavender is great with itch, but there are quite a few other oils to try to learn if something works better for him 🙂

    1. It’s a super late response, but You can grind rolled oats in a coffee grinder. That’s what I did when my daughter had overall body rash. It worked like magic

  • I am so excited to try the essential oil aloe jelly mix for I actually have all of the ingredients. It feels so wrong to say that I am looking forward to the next time my hubby gets poison ivy

  • I can’t wait to make this aloe jelly mix!! My husband is so allergic to poison ivy and when he gets it it’s a nightmare to get rid of!

  • Hopefully I will not need to reference these later. My daughter and I are extremely allergic to poison ivy and it is miserable. It is great to have some ideas to try next time we are exposed. Thanks for the ideas!

    1. Hopefully you don’t have to use any of these, but if you do, we hope they give you and your daughter some relief!

  • I hope we can escape this summer without poison ivy but it seems unlikely…. I’m SOOOO glad to have these oily suggestions to help cure the inevitable when it strikes!

  • Great ideas. My dog brings in poison ivy. She gets into it outside sometimes and then transfers it to me. I share everything with her and this is what she shares with me. LOL!

    1. I have not personally used the banana trick, but perhaps someone else can share their experiences!

  • Yes!!! I love this so much. Thank you! My boyfriend spends most of his time outdoors and is currently battling a bad bout of poison ivy. I’ve been searching for a natural remedy and I’m so happy to have found this.

  • UNBELIEVABLE QUICK REMEDY

    1. I rubbed the Poison Ivy visible areas with (91%) Rubbing Alcohol with a cotton ball very aggressively (but don’t break open the skin). Let it dry. (Removes the traces of urushiol plant oil which enables you to treat the area and NOT let it spread)

    2. Wash the area off. Dab dry with paper towel.

    (3. Dab Mothers Apple Cider Vinegar on area with soaked cotton ball. Let it dry.) I just did it because I had it.

    4. Rub fresh slice of Lemon on the area. Let it dry.

    4. Mix in a 1 oz. Jigger add Baking Soda, rubbing alcohol, & fresh lemon juice to a not-too-thick consistency paste.

    5. Then dab or slightly smear on the affected areas. Leave on and dry.
    OMYGOSH! UNBELIEVABLE!!!! RELIEF FREE!!! Within 15-20 minutes!!

    I did not know I must have brushed by some climbing ivy that actually touched me on Day 1 when working in my yard, It wasn’t until midday of Day 2, that I had some around my wrist (under my wide band watch & it became itchy there). That afternoon, It had spread a little so I tried using Invarest (from the pharmacy) for the remainder of the day and all through the night but to no avail. (Definitely, I tried not to scratch it.)

    It wasn’t until I read on Day 3 on your site and a few others about the Alcohol & Lemons, did I come up with this Recipe/Remedy.

    Praise the Lord! IT WORKED FOR ME!!!

  • I love these ideas! I have actually tired the banana peel idea and it did work fairly well. I am going to try the lemon slices for my next bout of poison ivy.

  • I got poison ivy for the first time this year and oh boy talk about miserable. I went to the dr and she gave me this nasty cream for the itch. It didn’t really help so I looked up essential oils for itching and decided to go with a mix of tea tree, lavender and peppermint. I put a few drop of each in a 10ml roller bottle with aloe and boy did that work 100% better than that nasty cream. Wish I did the essential oils first I could have saved I trip to the dr.

    1. My husband got into it and has the rash on both arms. As I’m highly allergic to it, I had to figure out how to clean him up and start a protocol to get rid of it asap and and i found your website. I saw this Dot C’s recipe of Lavender, Tea Trea and Peppermint (however used Eucalyptus instead of Peppermint) and put equal amounts in a small essenial oil bottle. I then cleaned it with ACV, let it dry, put organic coconut oil on the now dry skin and then the mixture on top. Hubby said he has relief and is resting well !!
      Thank yoyu, Plant Therapy, for your site.

  • So much poison Ivy around where we live. And my mom is super reactive to it. Im definately going to pass along these recipes and try making the aloe jelly recipe. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Father had poison oak exposure before we arrived for a visit (with my oils in hand). He had already been on prednisone, since it was so bad. However, I ordered him some Helichrysum Hydrosol to help with the itching and skin healing, since it was at that point. Great stuff. Saving these other ideas though for primary exposure.

  • I just recently got rid of poison ivy that was on my arms, stomach, and back. Before this recent episode I hadn’t had poison ivy since childhood. So glad I discovered the blog post, including DIY recipes for relief! Just wanted to send thanks for the useful information! I’ll be giving it a try if I end up with poison ivy again!

  • My son and my father are very allergic to poison ivy!! I am so happy to have an Essential oils recipe that can help them. Hopefully this will help so that they don’t need to get the shot at the hospital again! Thank you!!

  • I feel like I’m reading comments from a different article than the one posted! For one thing the post is dated July 2018 and comments are from 2013 to current. I get recycling great posts and updating them, but these comments don’t match the current article making it very confusing. So many are talking about salt, emulsifiers, polysorbate, etc., none of which are in the current post. The comments about the great recipe…this recipe or an older one? What has changed? I love the look of the current recipe for ease of use and making it, but does it work? Honestly, I hope I never have to find out. lol But I am glad to see this topic covered.

    1. You are very welcome, Rachael. It’s always good to know a few ways to make yourself a little more comfortable when this happens!

  • This will definitely come in handy as my husband is highly allergic to poison ivy. Nobody else in our family gets it except him. I’m planning to make up the jelly to have on hand. Does it need to be refrigerated? The aloe gel I have said to store it in the fridge.

  • Glad I found this blog. We too have lots of poison ivy around here. I am a Monarch Mother and am always walking the ditches for milkweed and Monarch eggs. So far I have been lucky avoiding the poison ivy. Glad to have this blog ear marked… just in case… thank you

  • I’ll have to remember these! I swear my husband gets poison ivy if he goes anywhere within a 10 mile radius of the plants. Its crazy. But he’s allergic to bananas so I’ll skip the last one. 😉

  • Great article and timing! Not sure I have poison ivy, but I rubbed against some plant while gardening and have bumps and it itches, so possibly, I’m going to try these remedies and I’m sure it will help, no matter what this allergic reaction came from, thanks!

  • THank you for this! I am definitely holding onto this as I know I will need this having children.

  • My husband ended up with terrible reaction to poison oak after Independence Day. I mixed organic, unrefined coconut oil with YL Lavender, frankincense, tea tree and geranium oils. Stored in small glass container and shook well before using. Has worked amazingly!!!! Cannot live without my oils!!

  • Help! I don’t have an emulsifier and I have no idea where to get one NOW! Just got poison ivy and need something ASAP. Can’t wait for something to ship. Ideas where to find it (target, menards, hyvee are biggest stores around here that might have something like it) or something I can use as a substitute??

    1. I’m sorry Mysti, I have always found emulsifiers online. Hopefully some of our customers can offer feedback.

    1. Glycerin is not a suitable emulsifier for essential oils as you would need too much of it for it to be effective. Hand Sanitizer can dilute essential oils for itself, but if you add it to other things, it’ll need additional help.

    1. Most of the recipes we have that include an emulsifier/solubilizer we use Polysorbate (80 or 20). 🙂

  • Oh my hell! Whooooo! Thank you thank you. I used everything as written, with castille soap as my emulsifier. After the first application the redness and swelling decreased by 50%. I no longer want to cheese grate the skin off my arm. I’ve been storing the salve in my fridge, and the cold feels really nice. The pepperment also has a nice cooling effect long after the salve has been applied, which keeps the itch and burning at a minimum. I had been using ACV and tea tree up to this point, and it was working well, but not like this. The addition of oils specifically meant to target the discomfort, and not just the rash itself, have saved me! Yay! You’re so smart! The salt also appears to be making the most difference in the size of radial redness and swelling. Anyway, that was a very long-winded way to say, thank you muchly!!!!

    1. Shannon, thank you so much sharing your experience! Our aromatherapists work so hard to create these wonderful remedies and it is always so great to hear that it has made a difference to our customers!

    1. Hey Adrienne, I haven’t ever used this recipe with iodize salt. If you give it a try let us know how it turns out.

      1. I decided to not use it and go with kosher. I’ve had GREAT success with this recipe! The sumac is drying up and going away. I’m glad I found this! Thank you!!

        1. OH I also used Fractionated Coconut Oil. As long as you shake it to mix, it should be ok! I think this is a great mention because not everyone has an emulsifier on hand. 🙂 FCO worked wonders for me. Thanks again!

    1. Linda, I have never tried this but based on what I can find you would use the inside of the banana peel.

      1. I have used banana peel. Always have bananas around. It works for me. Just peel and rub some over area(i get it mostly on my arms)using inside of peel. Gives me relief.or rub slice of lemon helps too.

    1. Kaye, witch hazel will not work as an emulsifier. You will need to add one if you use witch hazel.

  • Thank you for this remedy. I am new to using essential oils and this is the first time I have made a “remedy” for myself. I came into contact with some poison ivy and have been itching like crazy. The store-bought tube wasn’t doing much for me. Found your blog, made some of this up, put it on and my arms look and feel better already. Just wish I hadn’t waited so long.

    1. Hi Karen! Emulsifiers help to disburse essential oils evenly in water or other polar substances. Without an emulsifier, the essential oils will just float to the surface and even shaking well does not properly disburse them.

  • The first application of this worked so well, I was thrilled! After the second one, though, the itching was still unbearable largely due to my skin being so dried out. I actually wonder if the extreme drying really does much for the poison ivy because I also have it on my face, including around one eye (yeah, bummer). That patch, and to a lesser extent the patches on my cheeks and neck, have gotten a little jojoba oil (with kigelia extract, which is healing for skin) on them since it’s what I use on my face, and they’re no more — and possibly less — irritated than patches on my arms and hands.
    So, I adapted this recipe to: 2 tbsp water, 1 tbsp ACV, and the 3 EOs in the same amounts — and it’s working great! I can use it every few hours without my skin feeling desiccated and itching from that.
    Thanks SO much for the EO suggestion — this is wonderful, I love the tingle and the effectiveness to relieve the itch!

    1. Tracy, thanks for your feedback. This is still a safe dilution, just be sure to and emulsifier. I highly recommend a preservation as noted in the bottom of the post.

  • Thank you for this! Just like you, I was never allergic to poison ivy, but apparently age 41, things changed. I also didn’t want to spend Easter Sunday covered in pink flaky medicine. I’ve been using the essential oils by themselves, but I think the ACV and salt will be helpful. Thanks again!

    1. I had it so bad one year I had to get 4 steroid shots. I got it from breathing the smoke where my husband was burning brush. My doctor said I pretty much had it from the inside out! I will trying this solution today! I never even get close to where I think there is a possibility it will be growing. So, I must have gotten it from one of my dogs. Thanks for the home remedies. I love my Essential Oils and knew there would be an oil for this!

  • My husband and I were clearing a lot area behind our house…I thought since it was winter that I wouldn’t be effected. I was wrong. It’s not bad…just a small area, but dang it’s itchy! I love this recipe. It provided immediate relief from the itch. Thank you so much!

    1. So sorry to hear. Unfortunately if your son was scratching and he had open skin the salt and vinegar would tend to sting a bit. If the skin is not broken, this is an effective solution to apply to the rash. I hope you found a comfortable solution!

      1. To me, burning is soothing compared to the itch. I’ve had to burst my blisters open and pour alcohol in them to get relief. I was in Iraq and that’s the only option I had. I had gotten it when I went on leave. When I came back, I was miserable in 120 degree weather, long sleeve uniforms and full battle rattle. Ahhh the good ole’ days.

  • what can I use for my mouth/lips…they are full of oozing blisters not getting any relief with baking soda..not sure what else to use…its on my back and mouth….I’m not sure how I got it , but it sure is there, I’m in pain around my mouth

    1. Being in such delicate places I would recommend seeing your doctor and following their advice. Hoping you have a speedy recovery!

  • If you keep getting poison ivy (oak or sumac) and don’t know how, look to your pets as possible (albeit, unknowing) culprits. If your dog or cat rubs up against the plant, they can get the oils on their coats, then when you pet them, it transfers to you, and voila! You now have poison ivy.

  • I used your recipe and it worked wonders! I did tweek it just a bit for my husband…..added a few drops of lemon oil (partly because I have been told lemon is supposed to work well but mostly because my husband can’t stand the smell of ACV) …and also made a batch and then put some into a glass spray bottle so he would be able to carry it with him and placed the rest in the fridge so it wouldn’t go bad.

  • If you have the oil on one part of your skin, you can spread it to another. Some folks have it go systemic, where it gets into their blood stream and pops where they have never touched…. Mouths, ears, keep going….. So you can definitely spread that oil. Wash it off with something designed to remove it from your skin.

    1. My husband gets it soooo bad and all the time. It is almost like it goes dormant for a while and then pops back up again. He had it for 3 months straight last year and it finally went away (thanks to him rubbing undiluted bleach directly onto the rash…which was awful) only to pop up a few days ago in the same spots just as bad as it was last year. The thing is, he hasn’t come into contact with any PI,PO,OR PS this year. It’s just back like it never went away!!

      1. Hi Amy,
        There are other plants in Poison family, notably Mango. The oils in the skin of a mango can cause poison ivy, and always do without fail every time I handle them, not even execssevely. If I am peeling mangos, it’s rampant. Keep that in mind with his “mystery” spots!

        1. Wow really can you get it this way from peeling mangoes?! Cuz I’ve had the systemic poison ivy where it pops up and I haven’t been anywhere to pick it up too ! Yikes! How did you find this out! Right now my daughter gas it all over her from a walk we went on and they must gave touched it cuz I saw it around and they were looking at all the bugs and foliage that we were near. It’s spreading to her face and in between her fingers… I’m just hoping I can get rid of it before it goes in her eyes etc or anywhere else. She’s been good can’t keep baindaids on ut where it is and she’s sux but not scratching a lot thank heaven but still really awful cuz I’m wondering if it can spread to the craft stuff and we all get it. Crayons scissors etc.let me know what you think. Mine has spread without touching it too bc which means it’s in our system I got lucky this time but she didn’t..

          1. I’ve personally not had problems with mangoes, but as they contain the same toxic substance on bark and leaves it’s a possibility. I remember someone telling me that they touched a mango tree and got very irritated…. if the oil remains on objects, and you touch it, then yes, it could irritate as well. Clothes and shoes must be washed to avoid that.The rash itself does not spread, but the oils can be on different objects or your skin’s thickness may affect different rates of absorption, and differing times of breakout….

      2. Mine does this ALL THE TIME! I’ve got a rash right now and I haven’t been around any poison ivy. I know people say you can’t get it unless you touch a plant or the oils, but that just isn’t the case for me. I’ve had to get steroid shots because it got so bad. Sometimes I just get a few blisters that randomly pop up for no reason. Ithe baffles me.

      1. Deborah, I would recommend cleaning the washer after washer after washing clothes worn by someone with poison oak.

  • Your poison ivy remedy would work great in a spray bottle. It would coat evenly and you wouldn’t have to touch the rash. Sometimes touching it can cause it to spread. I’ve been using essential oils for a couple of years now and love them! Effective and safe with no side-effects.

    1. Fun fact, you can’t get poison ivy by touching/scratching the rash. You only get it from the oils of the plant being on something. So if it’s still popping up clean yourself and everything your touching! My husband did yard work Tuesday, not me btw, and I’m covered in it! Trying this recipe this morning!!!!

      1. Also even after washing your clothes it can still contain the poison oils. Wash them in the highest temp possible.

      2. You can also get it someone is burning it and you come in contact with the smoke. My dad is that sensitive to poison ivy and sumac.

    1. I have not heard anything one thing over another! 😉 I’d say use filtered it you have it!

  • Thank you!! This is the best itch relief yet. I didn’t add the salt, I was sick of all the other messy things I’ve tried and I don’t have many blisters (yet) just lots of itchy red dots. Sigh. I might have to try the lemon thing too. I am so desperate!!

  • My husband was working out of town 3 1/2 hours away doing wetlands work for a city with the EPA when he got into some poison ivy and had it all over his shins and calves. He called me to ask what he could do. I told him to buy a lemon or two (just plain old lemons), to cut them in a thin slice, rub the affected area with the lemon and let dry. He did this. saving the lemon to cut into other slices later in the day. He took a shower and reapplied the lemon juice to his poison ivy and it was all gone in two days. It cost him around .69c for a lemon and he didn’t even use it all before the poison ivy was gone.
    Lemon juice works wonders. Bragg’s will work, too, but we like the lemon juice. It wiped out my daughter’s poison oak within two days. She even had swollen eyes that were almost shut, but they were open the next day, and on the second day it was all gone. She had it on her face and neck.
    I know EO’s work, but lemons are cheaper and work fast and effectively without all the fuss of making solutions and tying them on affected areas.

    1. Thankyou for the advise. One important CAUTION is that skin exposed to sun with citrus juice on it can create boils. I learned this the hard way after my son ate on some lemons while on a picnic. Later, he had rediscover brown spots which became inflamed skin and quickly turned into large boils. Always wash off the lemon juice with a soap to cut the oils.

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