You may have heard or may be familiar with Poison Ivy and how it greatly causes skin irritations. Either taken orally or topically, a lot of over the counter medications are available for its treatment.
Little do we know, Poison Ivy can actually be treated easily with the use of natural ingredients. Specifically useful in its treatment are essential oils.
To know more about your natural remedy options, let us first understand more about Poison Ivy.
What is Poison Ivy?
Poison Ivy is a plant common to the regions of North America and Asia. Although there exist some variations depending on the plant’s region, such as the Poison Sumac and Poison Oak, they all have in common a resin called Urushiol.
Urushiol is what exactly causes the skin irritations and rashes upon having contact with any part of the plant. However, apart from direct contact, there actually exist cases in which Urushiol was contacted from gardening tools or pets.This indirect contact is still highly irritating.
How to Spot Poison Ivy?
For those who have no clue with botany, identifying Poison Ivy outdoors can be hard. Thing is, Poison Ivy changes appearance depending on the season, its age, and its variation. A common rule of thumb for some is the rhyme “leaves of three, let them be.” This is because Poison Ivy leaves are commonly grouped into three.
What makes it hard to determine Poison Ivy is, its leaf shape, for instance, varies from plant to plant. Its most basic characteristic perhaps is that its leaf “taper to a point”. But other than that, variations really do happen. Another difficulty with identifying it is sometimes the edges are smooth while other times they appear to have “teeth.”
Poison Ivy changes its color depending on the season as well. It’s commonly a shade of red or orange in spring and fall while green in summer. In winter, leaves may be absent but the roots and stems are still poisonous. The vine and shrub variations are also still present in winter.
You can definitely apply all these knowledge in spotting a Poison Ivy but the best way to do so is to have yourself acquainted to its various appearances. You can do so by looking at pictures online.
Poison Ivy Effects
The first ever recorded history of this skin irritation caused by the Poison Ivy was made in 1609 by Captain John Smith. It is said to somewhat resemble the English Ivy and causes a great deal of pain, redness, itching, and blisters.
Poison Ivy causes rashes and irritation with direct skin to skin contact. This is clinically known as allergic contact dermatitis. This typically looks red and swollen skin with visible blisters. The appearance varies from person to person and depends on the amount of exposure.
Itching is also a huge symptom of contact with Poison Ivy as mentioned by its first record. This can take a few hours to show up or maybe even days.
There have also been cases where Poison Ivy was caught in the eyes. This too causes a great deal of itching, burning, and swelling.
Another notable harmful effect of Poison Ivy is its respiratory effects. People tend to burn the plant down to get rid of it but this, in fact, causes a lot of harm when the smoke is inhaled. Typical symptoms would include difficulty in breathing, since airways would be severely inflamed, and fever.
How to Get Rid of Poison Ivy?
Lucky for you if you identified the plant immediately. You can definitely lessen its effect by washing your skin as soon as you can. Ideally less than 30 minutes of exposure. This reduces the chance of dermatitis a great deal as it can wash off the Urushiol.
For those who have developed a form of allergic dermatitis and were not able to prevent it, the most common medicinal treatment is taking antihistamines and Benadryl. This is to stop the occurrence and formation of any more allergens. Topical treatments such as lotion and soap are typically used to soothe the burning sensation.
However, for the severe cases mentioned such as contacting it in the eyes and inhaling its smoke, it is best to rush to the hospital to be given the right medication as the irritation occurs inside the body. This also goes for dermatitis that covers a huge part of the body and cannot be treated with topical ointments anymore.
Natural Remedies for Poison Ivy
For those who prefer a natural method of treating Poison Ivy, there are a handful of options to choose from. Each remedy targets different elements of the dermatitis.
For instance, Baking Soda and Watermelon are used to get rid of the itchiness. Oatmeal, Banana Peel, Cucumber, and Aloe Vera are commonly used to soothe the burning sensation as these are known to have cooling effects. Apple Cider Vinegar and Himalayan Crystal Salt are thought to remove the toxins out of the skin infection.
There are numerous ways to apply these to the affected areas of the skin. Some would require direct application while others would suggest mixing it with water and other ingredients.
However, often overlooked, essential oils can actually help in treating Poison Ivy.
Why Use Essential Oils in Treating Poison Ivy?
Essential oils are the ideal Poison Ivy treatment because they do not only offer healing effects, they also offer soothing effects at the same time. Different kinds of essential oils offer different kinds of benefits in treating the skin irritation. Nonetheless, all are proven to both heal and soothe the irritation.
Here is a list of the most useful essential oils for treating Poison Ivy, each of their benefits, and how to use them.
10 Useful Essential Oils for Treating Poison Ivy
1. Lavender Oil
Lavandula or commonly known as Lavender is native to Africa, Europe, and Asia. Its distinct color and smell make it a widely used ornamental plant. But in some regions, Lavender is also used as a culinary herb.
Lavender Oil comes from the flower spikes of the Lavender plant. These spikes are distilled to be able to extract oil.
It is commonly used in aromatherapy and is best known for treating anxiety, emotional stress, and sleep problems. The soothing smell of Lavender is also a favorite of commercial products such as perfume, balms, and cosmetics.
The essential oil is also greatly used in skin care. It is a common natural cure for acne and naturally prevents skin aging and wrinkles. Its smell is known to prevent insect bites as well.
But Lavender Oil is also used in treating eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis. With that said, Lavender Oil is also seen as an effective treatment for Poison Ivy. This is because Lavender Oil contains high antimicrobial agents.
You can use Lavender Oil directly to the skin for treating skin irritations. 2 to 3 drops would suffice. But to be safe, as essential oils have concentrated components that can also cause irritations by themselves, mixing Lavender Oil with a vegetable oil (such as coconut oil) is better.
2. Eucalyptus Oil
Another essential oil with high antimicrobial agents is Eucalyptus Oil.
Eucalyptus is native to Australia and its neighboring countries. However, cultivating it is now being done worldwide as far as the Americas. Eucalyptus, being a tree, produces a lot of products other than essential oil. It can produce dye from all its parts and honey from its nectar.
Eucalyptus oil is extracted from distilling the trees’ leaves. Other than personal use, the essential oil is also used in industrial cleaning and solvents.
The essential oil contains high antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties which are very useful in fighting off Poison Ivy. It also has a certain characteristic of a cooling sensation. This is helpful in soothing the burning and itching from the blisters of dermatitis.
However, since the oil affects skin sensation greatly, too much of it at a high concentration may result to otherwise burning sensation. To prevent this from happening, it is best to use Eucalyptus Oil already diluted in water.
To use it for treating Poison Ivy, a ratio of 1 cup of water to 5 drops of Eucalyptus oil is recommended. You can use a towel in applying it similar to a cold compress. You can spray it directly to your skin as well when it’s already been diluted.
3. Tea Tree Oil
Tea Tree Oil is known as the best essential oil for anything that involves skin care. It comes from the plant named Narrow-Leaved Paperback which is native to Australia. However the oil itself when ingested is highly toxic.
It is known to be used for acne, scabies, insect bites, dandruff, and especially for dermatitis. This is due to the essential oil’s antiseptic, antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.
Not only does Tea Tree Oil contain healing properties, it also contains soothing properties as it gives off a cooling sensation a few moments after its application. It is ideally used as an initial skin disinfectant. You can then use it with another healing essential oil for better results.
Tea Tree oil is a concentrated oil and has a lot of components given the strong healing properties it provides. With that said, it is not recommended to use Tea Tree Oil by itself. Dilute it first in water
To use it for treatment, mix a ratio of 1 cup of water to 5 drops of Tea Tree Oil and use a cloth to wipe the infected area of the skin. This helps in getting rid of any bacteria to which another essential oil can be applied properly and cleanly.
4. Rose Oil
Rose Oil is extracted from the petals of the flower Rose. Rose Oil is known to be very expensive as the petals only produce very little oil. This requires a very demanding and labor-intensive production.
Rose Oil is said to have antidepressant benefits as it is very fragrant. It helps in calming patients of painful diseases as well. It is best known for its therapeutic effects.
Rose Oil provides a lot of treatment for skin irritations as well. This is because the essential oil contains antiseptic components as well. It also helps a lot in preventing any allergy caused by the infection.
To use it, you can mix it up with other essential oils to get the most of its benefits.
5. Cypress Oil
Cypress oil comes from the Cypress plant which can be found in various parts of the world. They commonly grow in dry areas.
Cypress Oil contains a whole lot of benefits including detox and healing respiratory conditions but on top of that list is its antiseptic properties. This is particularly helpful for healing and soothing the infected area at the same time.
Cypress Oil is non-toxic and non-irritant so it could be directly applied to the skin without any danger of other irritations. In fact, it prevents further irritations with its chemical composition.
But depending on your liking, Cypress Oil can also be diluted in water and added to a warm bath or other essential oil.
6. Geranium Oil
Geranium oil comes from a very specific species of the Geranium plant scientifically named Pelargonium graveolens. This is the only plant that produces the said essential oil and this only native to the regions of South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.
The flower is distilled to extract the oil. The flower is also used a lot in cooking such as cakes, jams, and ice cream, and tea.
Geranium Oil is very rich in a component called geraniol. Geraniol is said to have the most effective anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial effect as resulted from a study. Geranium Oil also has anti-allergenic properties and which in itself is a form of natural antihistamine.
With its concentrated amount of components, using the oil undiluted would cause harm to the skin. To use it, mix it with water or coconut oil before skin application.
7. Peppermint Oil
Peppermint Oil is extracted from the Peppermint plant which is actually a hybrid of the Watermint and the Spearmint plants. The plant is native to Europe and the Middle East, however cultivation is already done in various parts of the world.
Peppermint Oil is known for its cooling and soothing sensation upon application as it contains a high amount of menthone. This is why Peppermint oil is very much used as a natural pesticide. It also helps a lot in muscle relief and nerve pain.
This too is very effective in fighting off the burning and itching of the Poison Ivy allergy. More than that, however, Peppermint Oil have its own natural antihistamine. With this natural anti-allergen component, the essential oil can definitely prevent further formation of allergens in the skin.
Peppermint Oil is safe to apply directly on the skin. For skin hydration or for sensitive skin, it can be diluted with coconut oil.
8. Myrrh Oil
Myrrh is harvested as a resin from the plant Commiphora. It is native to the regions of Africa, Arabia, and India. It has been widely used in traditional medicines of the Egyptians and Chinese.
Myrrh Oil is also known for its antiseptic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties which could definitely help in treating dermatitis caused by Poison Ivy. But more than that, Myrrh Oil is especially hydrating and moisturizing.
This certain characteristic of Myrrh Oil makes it ideal for skin types which are typically drier than usual. This effects into lesser irritation and more soothing sensation.
To use it, it is ideally mixed with water or vegetable oil to dilute its concentration. It can also be mixed with a warm bath if the infected area is large.
9. Helichrysum Oil
Helichrysum Oil is extracted from the flowers of a certain type of Helichrysum plant commonly called as curry plant. This is because the plant gives off a very strong smell. The essential oil, however, once distilled gives off a different smell reminiscent of burnt sugar and ham.
Helichrysum Oil provides a handful of benefits and healing skin irritation is on the top of the list. This is because the essential oil consists of terpene compounds and flavonoids that are known to effectively fight against bacteria.
Aside from its antimicrobial properties, anti-inflammatory properties are also found in the said oil. This is particularly effective in treating eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis — including dermatitis caused by the Poison Ivy.
To use in treatment, you can mix it with coconut oil before applying to the affected area. This can be repeated several times a day.
10. Roman Chamomile Essential Oil
Roman Chamomile Essential Oil is extracted from the Chamomile plant. It is commonly known for its production of Chamomile Tea. It is also usually used as a flavoring to various food items. Roman Chamomile Oil also gives off a fragrant smell thus making it as a typical ingredient in perfumes and cosmetics.
It is used as a way to rejuvenate the skin. This is because the essential oil contains anti-inflammatory and antibacterial components. This helps in soothing the skin and hydrating it.
With that said, Roman Chamomile Oil is definitely useful in the treatment of Poison Ivy. In fact, using it as a treatment for eczema is 60% as effective as using an over the counter topical treatment. The anti-inflammatory proteins of the oil easily penetrate the skin making it heal much faster
Roman Chamomile Oil also have antioxidants which is great in maintaining the immune system. A well maintained immune system is a good defense mechanism in the further formation of allergies which is what exactly Poison Ivy does.
To use Roman Chamomile Oil in treating Poison Ivy, you can mix drops of it with soothing gels such as Aloe Vera gel or Calendula gel.
Preventing Poison Ivy
To save you all the hassle, as they would always say, “prevention is better than cure.” Preventing yourself from contacting Poison Ivy is as important as treating it.
There are a handful ways of preventing Poison Ivy. First, as mentioned in the beginning of the article, you would have to know how to identify Poison Ivy outdoors or even in your own backyard. This would then help you to ultimately avoid the plants when going outdoors.
If the plant is in your background, have it removed. However, be careful not to set it on fire near you because there are cases where inhaling Poison Ivy smoke caused severe respiratory inflammation. The best way to do this is to apply herbicide or remove and throw it away safely.
In removing it, always wear protective clothing. Cover any exposed skin as possible. Wear boots, gloves, long sleeved shirts, and pants. Avoid touching your face. After using these clothing, throw them immediately in the washer or a basin and wash it thoroughly with water.
Finally, if you have pets, wash them immediately after contact with the plant. Wash any gardening or outdoor tools that have made contact with the plant. Use gloves while doing this as well.
Poison Ivy is a dangerous plant that can cause mild to severe skin irritations and pain. More dangerous are inflammations inside the body such as eyes and respiratory system. With these situations, it is important to go straight to the hospital.
Small skin irritations, however, can be easily treated. A lot of natural remedies are available and using essential oils is one effective way of treating it.
The oils mentioned here are all proven to treat Poison Ivy. Not only are they relaxing and soothing to the skin but, more importantly, they contain components that can heal the infection effectively.
Using these natural remedies over drugstore medications provides a lot of benefits. For one, these are typically less expensive. Other than that, it can be used in more ways than one. With all the components each oil consists of, there is no doubt you will be able to use it for other purposes.
Essential oils are typically found in some skin care boutiques. There are a lot of known brands online as well. You can definitely look into these to find the essential oil that is effective for you.