According to a study about 85% of the population suffers due to an allergic reaction, when they come in contact with the toxic plant poison oak. Poison oak belongs to the family of Toxicodendron and is one of the terribly deceiving plants that affect thousands of nature lovers every year. Although the first contact with the plant may not cause any rash, the subsequent one can lead to sensitivity to urushiol oil, which is the toxic oil found in the plant’s root, stem and leaves.
This toxin is similar to the one found in both poison sumac and poison ivy. The rash appears anytime from twelve hours to a week after you come in contact with the plant. Initially, it shows up as itchy, small bumps, which develop into fluid-filled eruptions. The itching due to rash could be quite intense.Mentioned below are a few of the home remedies for rashes caused due to poison oak. In case these remedies do not bring any respite, you may need over the counter medications. If the irritation is quite severe then it requires medical attention.
Home Remedies for Poison Oak
Vinegar and Vodka
You can use a high-proof alcoholic drink as a substitute for rubbing alcohol to help prevent infection and also to sterilize the affected area. You can apply vodka directly to the irritated skin immediately after you come in contact with the plant. This works quite well, as the alcohol will remove the urushiol oil, which causes the itchiness.
In case, you don’t have high-proof alcohol or vodka then vinegar is also quite effective in alleviating the pain and itching that is usually associated with this condition. You can apply vinegar directly to the areas affected by this toxic plant.
Potato or Oatmeal Pastes
If you do not have enough body powder then you can make use of foods like potatoes. Potato is usually used in treating many of the inflammatory conditions like sunburn and it works well even in treating rashes caused by poison oak.
Blend a potato in a mixer and apply this paste to the itchy area. Instead of potato, you could also use the oatmeal paste. You can also soak yourself in the bathwater with one cup of oatmeal added to it.
As an alternative you can add Epsom salt (1 cup) in your bath, which gives relief from rashes. Soak yourself in the tub for about 15-30 minutes. Make sure that all the areas of the skin are submerged completely in the water. It is always good to apply rubbing alcohol before using any of the anti-itching remedies.
In case you do not have access to food or alcohol, then you could try using coffee as a final resort. A mug of black, cold coffee is usually used to treat the symptoms associated with poison oak. Chologenic acid present in coffee has anti-inflammatory properties and helps in soothing irritation.
This is another effective remedy, which produces an immediate tranquilizing sensation, when it is applied to the area affected by the rash. It reduces the swelling, itch and redness. This can be applied in the form of a paste or included in a tepid bath. The rashes caused due to poison oak are aggravated if you use hot water, so a warm bath would be ideal to soak yourself.
In case, the itch does not subside or you do not have immediate access to body powder, gauze or a rubbing alcohol, a banana peel will give temporary solution.
You need to just rub the inside part of the banana peel on the affected area, which will give relief briefly as you look for other better cure.
Lavender and Tea Tree Essential Oils
These essential oils are mixed in 1:1 ratio and used directly on the rash. This will quickly heal the rash. Whether they are used by itself or in combination, these essential oils provide incredible relief.
Applying wet compresses every 15-20 minutes provides relief. You can use a paper towel or wet washcloth soaked in water.
Soap and Water
Removal of oil without any delay from the affected area is the best method to avoid contamination. You need to wash clothes, pets, tools or any other equipment that has come in contact with urishiol.
This is because the oils could remain active for several months. It is recommended to bathe with soap and water within thirty minutes you come in contact with the plant, as it prevents the penetration of the oil into the skin.
Honey has been used for thousands of years to treat wounds. The ‘Mid-Atlantic Apiculture Research’ suggests using honey on the irritated skin, even if the area of the skin is broken. It soothes the itch and swelling.
The soothing nutrients present in the aloe vera gel are effective in treating the rashes. The health center of the ‘University of Texas’ at Houston affirms that the extract of the leaf will help in getting rid of the itching caused due to toxic oil.
Peppermint Mud Mask
Combine peppermint oil (1/8th tsp) and salt (1 tsp). Stir the mixture and add green clay (1 cup) to it. Stir the ingredients to form a paste by adding a little bit of water. The paste is applied on the affected areas. The paste will soak up all the oils that are on the skin. This treatment is done 1 or 2 times every day or as required. The leftover ingredients can be stored in the refrigerator.
Buttermilk also helps in soothing the itching caused due to rashes and provides relief from pain. Also, applying the paste prepared by mixing three parts of warm water and one part of bleach for 2-3 days is an excellent home remedy.
Other Homemade Remedies for Poison Oak
Peels of fruits like lemon and orange can be rubbed on the affected skin. This cures the rashes and itching. Add peach leaves to the boiling water and use this solution to massage the affected skin or you can even drink this concoction. It is one of the beneficial remedies.
Jewelweed is highly recommended for poison oak. The stems of this plant are filled with a kind of gel that is similar to Aloe Vera. The plant bears orange-yellow flowers. It helps in reducing the rash caused by poison oak. The gel must be applied immediately, when one is exposed to the toxic plant.