Home Remedies for Poison Oak, How to Treat Poison Oak Rash Naturally

Home Remedies for Poison Oak, How to Treat Poison Oak Rash Naturally

Are there home remedies for poison oak that really work? Just like poison ivy and sumac, poison oak causes redness and an itchy rash when it comes into contact with the skin, which is called allergic contact dermatitis. Here are home remedies for poison oak treats rash and calms the itch allowing the symptoms to resolve faster.

Poison ivy, poison oak and sumac tree all contain the same rash triggering plant called Urushiol- a sticky oil. This means that, if you are allergic to one of these plants, you are more likely to be allergic to the other two. Not everyone is allergic to poison oak. According to webmd.com, up to 85% of Americans are allergic to poison oak. Poison oak may not cause any reactions for the first time that you are exposed. Sensitivity varies from mild to severe breaking out as a rash or blister on contact with the plant.

When poison oak comes into contact with the skin, it quickly penetrates the skin leaving red visible lines showing point of contact. Symptoms of poison oak allergy appear 24-72 hours after exposure. Scratching on the itchy rash does not cause it to spread but prolongs the healing and may cause a secondary skin infection. It is also important to note that poison oak rash is not contagious.

How can you get Poison Oak Rash?

The Urushiol in poison oak rash is very sticky and can easily get attached to skin, clothing, tools, equipment and pet’s fur. One can get poison oak rash from;

Direct contact : Touching the leaves, berries, stem or roots of the plant.

Indirect contact with contaminated objects: if contaminated objects like shoes, clothes or farm equipment have not been cleaned, touching them may get the urushiol on your skin and cause you a reaction.

Inhalation : smoke from burning poison oak contains the oil which can irritate your nasal airways and lungs. This may cause severe swelling and difficulty in breathing.

Home Remedies for Poison Oak

Poison oak rash can be comfortably treated at home with natural remedies. However, if you experience severe poison oak symptoms, see a doctor immediately. While poison oak rash disappears with time, there are several home remedies to help you reduce the pain and itching .

Banana Peel

Using banana peel is one of the old wives tale home remedies for poison oak. Banana peels have a cooling effect that relieves the itch. Simply rub the inside of a banana peel on the affected area. Once you rub on the peel to the skin, make sure you do not wash the area for at least 15 minutes.

Watermelons have a similar effect when applied on the skin and can be used in the same way to relieve itching.

Apple Cider Vinegar

ACV has a cooling effect. When applied to the skin it helps to breakdown the urushiol oils. It helps to stop the toxic oil from seeping into your skin.

  1. Combine equal amounts of ACV with water
  2. Use a clean cotton pad to dab the solution onto the skin. DO NOT RUB
  3. Let it dry on and repeat as needed

Note that ACV might sting on application but it only takes a few seconds to dry off and for the burning to die down. Alcohol can be used in the same way.


This is one of the best home remedies for poison oak. It is very succulent. It works by countering the chemicals that cause irritation.

  1. Cut a fresh stem of jewelweed plant. Apply the sap on the affected area to neutralize the urushiol oils
  2. Chop jewelweed leaves and add them to boiling water. Allow to boil until you see a dark orange liquid. Strain the liquid and allow it to cool down. Place in an ice cube tray in a freezer to get jewel weed ice cubes. Before use, wrap the jewelweed ice cubes in a soft cloth and apply it to the skin to get relief from itching and rash.

This remedy can be stored in the freezer for future use.


Turmeric is a great home remedy with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. When used on the skin, it relieves itching and calms down the burning sensation.

  1. Make a paste by mixing turmeric powder with lemon juice
  2. Apply the paste to the affected area
  3. Leave it on the skin for 15-20 minutes then rinse off with cool water
  4. Do this twice daily

Note that turmeric stains everything yellow.

Potato Paste Poison Oak

Potatoes have a soothing effect on the skin.

  1. Wash a potato and place it in the bender to get a paste
  2. Add in a little water to make the paste manageable- not runny
  3. Apply this paste to the affected area and cover with a gauze
  4. Leave it for 45 minutes and wash off

Tea Bag

Tannic acid in tea is a great astringent which quickly relieves itching and inflammation. Simply soak tea bags in warm water and allow them some minutes to saturate. Place the soaked tea bag on the rash.


Oatmeal is one of the popular home remedies for poison oak. Take an oatmeal bath to soothe skin and relieve itching.

  1. Finely grind oatmeal and put it in your bath for soothing itch relief on rashes and blisters
  2. Make an oatmeal paste and add in some water and salt. Apply this paste onto the affected skin

Be careful when making and using oatmeal baths- they may feel sticky and are a potential risk for falls.

Plantain Leaves

Plantain leaves are commonly used to relieve pain and stop itching from poison oak allergy.  The leaves contain a chemical- allantion which has strong anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

  1. Wash 8-10 plantain leaves to remove soil and dirt
  2. Chop the leaves and crush or blend them
  3. Express the green juice on the affected area and allow it to dry
  4. Store the left over in an air tight container in the refrigerator and use it for not more than a week

Plantain leaves are also drying and aid in faster healing of poison oak rash.

Home Remedies for Poison Oak Rash

Poison oak rash is not contagious- the fluid in the blisters does not contain the sticky ururshiol oil and does not spread with the rash. It is also not possible to get poison oak allergy from another person unless you get in contact with urushiol on the other person’s clothing. Here are some home remedies for poison oak rash.

Aloe Vera Gel for Poison Oak Rash

Aloe Vera is very effective in healing the poison oak rash fast. It is one of the few natural remedies that is able to penetrate the skin and absorb the Urusiol oil. Aloe Vera also has a cooling effect which reduces the itchiness. It can be used on sensitive parts of the body and like on face where other remedies may not be used.

  1. Rinse your skin with lukewarm water. Break the leaf and obtain the gel for topical skin relief. Apply liberally on the skin.
  2. Extract Aloe Vera pulp by scraping off the outer thorny skin. Make aloe Vera spray for the skin by blending aloe Vera pup with water. Make thin as required to make it thin enough for a spritz bottle. Apply several times as needed to relieve itch and skin irritation.
  3. Aloe Vera can also be taken internally as a fast protection against the development of the rash. Take one tablespoon of aloe vera 3 times daily until the rash disappears.

It is best to use aloe Vera in its purest form. If not possible, buy aloe Vera gels and extracts from a health store near you being sure to get the one with the highest aloe Vera content.

How to Treat Poison Oak Rash with Coffee

Coffee has chlorogenic acid which offers strong anti-inflammatory properties that are excellent for poison oak rashes.

  1. Brew a cup of black coffee and allow it to cool.
  2. Pour the coffee on the rash and blisters to get relief from irritation.


Cucumbers have a cooling effect on the skin and help to soothe rash and speed up the healing.

  1. Crush fresh cucumbers to make a paste
  2. Apply it to the affected area and secure with a gauze
  3. Remove and replace the paste as required

Milk or Yogurt to Dry Out Poison Oak Rash and Blisters

Milk soothes the skin and helps to dry out the rash. It will also draw out fluid from blisters aiding in faster healing. Soak a cloth in milk and hold it against your skin. This may even work better than cold water compresses.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is a natural anti-inflammatory which helps to reduce swelling, redness and calm the itch. Simply apply a thin coat of tea tree oil directly to the poison ivy rash, rubbing it into the skin until the oil nearly vanishes.

Natural Remedies for Poison Oak

Poison oak allergy is one of the most common causes of contact dermatitis in America. Cases of poison oak allergies occur more frequently in the spring, summer and early fall when people spend more time outdoors. There are currently no immunotherapy shots to protect from poison oak. While the allergic reaction cannot be cured, there are natural remedies for poison oak that can help treat the symptoms.

Wash and Rinse Skin Immediately.

Soon after getting into contact with poison oak, rinse your skin with cool soapy water. This helps to remove the oil from the skin and stop the spread to other parts of the body. It is best to avoid using warm water. Warm water opens up the pores and will make it easy for the urushiol to set in. You can also keep the affected area under cold running water for 10-15 minutes.

Remove and Wash Clothing

When you come into contact with poison oak, you should immediately remove clothing and thoroughly wash them separately. The oil can stick on clothing and can be transferred to other parts of the body or to other people. You should also wash your shoes, equipment and pet’s fur with warm soapy water- poison oak resins can stay on objects for up to 5 years, which could cause you to have another allergic reaction when your skin comes into contact with them.

Cool Compresses

Applying cold temperatures to the skin will help to calm the itch. Simply soak a soft washcloth in cold water and wring out the excess. Apply the cloth gently on affected skin without rubbing for 15-30 minutes. Cold temperature also serves to close the skin pores and limit the spread of the harmful oil.

Do Not Scratch

Scratching on the rash will break the skin and allow external bacteria to set in which can result in a severe bacterial infection. Even when blisters form, you should not pop them. Clip your nails short and cover the area to fight the temptation.

Calamine Lotion

Topical creams like calamine, capsaicin and hydrocortisone can provide relief from itching. Wait until the itching begins to apply this any of these creams. They can all be bought over the counter. Note that topical applications are only effective in mild cases.

Over the Counter Anti-histamines

Anti-histamines are medications that treat allergies. They offer relief from poison oak symptoms. It is recommended to take these medications before bedtime. They induce drowsiness and will help you rest and sleep better. Take as directed by the manufacturer.

When to See the Doctor

After getting into contact with poison oak, see the doctor immediately if you get any of the following symptoms

  • Rash or blisters covering most of your body
  • Severe swelling especially if it causes the eyelids to shut
  • If the rash develops on your face or genitals
  • If no remedy seems to provide relief from the itch
  • If you have trouble swallowing or breathing
  • If pus starts oozing from the blisters or you develop a fever

To Prevent Future Allergies or Exposure

Adhere to these tips in order to prevent exposure to the contact dermatitis or allergic reactions that are caused by poison oak plant.

  • Learn to identify poison oak , poison ivy or poison sumac
  • Dress appropriately if you are going to areas you think you may find poison oak
  • Bring along preventive measures when going on hikes or camping
  • Bath your pets if exposed to poison oak
  • Do not burn poison oak