Poison Oak Remedies

| Modified on Oct 01, 2022

Treatments for poison oak range from over the counter topical ointments to less traditional home remedies. Any treatment option works to relieve itching and reduce inflammation and oozing caused by the reaction. Effective home remedies include a variety of options such as peppermint oil, goat milk soap and others.

What is Poison Oak?

Medically termed urushiol-induced contact dermatitis, the reaction associated with poison oak is considered an allergic reaction. Poison oak and other plants contain an oily resin, urushiol, which is an irritant to many individuals’ skin. When exposed to the resin, individuals often breakout in a rash. Other symptoms include itching, redness and inflammation.

Home Remedies for Poison Oak

The treatment for contact dermatitis associated with poison oak relies on effective anti-itch and anti-inflammatory remedies. A variety of treatments are available, but home remedies are often the most effective. Peppermint oil, frankincense oil and goat milk soap are a few particularly effective treatment options.

Peppermint Oil

While peppermint oil may seem an unlikely candidate for treating an allergic reaction, it is one of the most effective treatments for poison oak. Peppermint oil contains highly concentrated menthol, which relieves itching and burning associated with the condition. The scent also helps calm the body and relax blood flow, which may contribute to relief as well.

Frankincense Oil

Frankincense is another oil known to help treat the effects of poison oak. The compounds in frankincense slow and even stop oil production which prevents further spread. The oil also helps relieve itching and inflammation.

Goat Milk Soap

The natural creaminess of goat milk soap makes it an effective treatment for poison oak. The milk from which the soap is made penetrates the skin and offers relief. One of the most sensitive types of soap available, goat milk soap also possesses a number of vitamins and minerals that replenish the skin.

Poison oak is causes an itchy and often painful skin reaction. Nonetheless, natural treatment options offer relief from the itching as well as treatment for inflammation and associated symptoms.

Clarifying Shampoo

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Posted by Jan (Monroe, OR) on 10/15/2007

The best and cheapest soap to wash up with after coming in contact with poison oak is a clarifying shampoo. The Sauve variety is about 2 dollars a bottle. I keep it neck to the sink in a pump bottle and wash with it when I come in from the woods or have pet the dogs. Works great.


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Posted by Louis jordan (North Carolina) on 09/25/2022

Comfrey stops the itching after an hour. Just mush up the leaves with water. Apply to itchy area and keep it wet. It worked for me with full blown poison oak with blisters, even after it spread to between my fingers. Btw: I wonder if the whole flare up is a detox cycle cleansing out other toxins that were already there.

Goat Milk Soap

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Posted by Pam (Carpinteria, California) on 08/13/2012

My granddaughter arrived with an outbreak of poison oak on her arm from camping. I had her wash it with goat milk soap several times a day and resist scratching. It went away in 4 days. I love the soap for my skin and intend to make some for myself.

Histaminum Hydrochloricum

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Posted by Amk7381 (Millington, Mi) on 04/27/2017

Histaminum for Poison Oak:

dosage is 5 pills every 8 hours or so. This is a homeopathic medicine with no side effects. It stops the allergic reaction to poison oak / ivy and will totally knock it out within 2 or 3 days.

Hot Water

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Posted by Jean-o-mac (Texas) on 06/06/2019

I actually didn't know what to do when I came in contact with poison oak. I had it on my forearm and thought it was an insect bite like chigger or something.

This sounds insane, but I took a wash cloth and dipped it in water that is 155 degrees and then slapped it over the area and did my crazy lady dance until the burning stopped. It took out the itch and within a day or 2 it has started to scab over and dry up. I have had no more itching since the HOT steam bath. Here is what I did….I dipped the cloth in water 155 degree (120 will work find) then I left the wash cloth on until it cooled down. Then I immediately did it a second time! After it cooled down I hit it a third time and waited again until it cooled down. This works great for insect bites like chiggars, mosquitos, tick bites, bee/wasp stings…anything that stings or itches. HOT HOT water.

NOTE: It does not work on brown recluse or black widow spider bites.

Replied by Oak
(North Carolina)

I once tried this on full blown blistering poison ivy and it made the itching go away for some minutes but the itching spread ALLOT. My legs swelled up 1.5x. I've never had it that bad and wonder if the hot water made it worse. That's a nay, except it did stop the itches briefly.

Multiple Remedies

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Posted by Quiet (Wisconsin, Wisconsin, Usa) on 05/15/2012

This worked for what was either weeping eczema--the kind that becomes high, itchy bumps that burst to weep and get a yellow crust--or impetigo (a.k.a. , "school rash"). The former is not contagious; the latter is very contagious. Take precautions accordingly. The same doctor diagnosed my first signs as the former, then five days later revised diagnosis to impetigo. I will spare you the details; following is the cure:

1--wash with gentle soap, before or with baking soda, using tepid water, not hot. (alkalizes, exfoliates. )
2--dab with 3% hydrogen peroxide (the kind you can gargle with, straight). Let that dry, or dab it dry.
3--cover with thin film of tea tree oil, or tea tree oil/vitamin E oil.
4--cover with thin film of organic extra virgin coconut oil.
[at this point, the itching should stop. ]
5--paint with very thin coat of 30% zinc with castor oil "butt paste. " (Find it in the baby aisle. )
6--I also took turmeric (spice rack) and black pepper in water--1 tsp turmeric with dash of pepper, three times daily.
7--Drink plenty of water throughout the day.

That's it. Do the topical application 2X daily, for rapid results. Once daily is not quite enough. *Continue treating effected areas for at least a week after you think you have it all under control, or it may return.*

Be sure to *use bleach* on on linens, and clothing, as well. If you are sensitive to bleach, as I am, run fabric through the rinse cycle a couple of extra times. Use a hot dryer when possible.

Doctor's *full spectrum* antibiotic, issued to me before even a lab test, DID NOT WORK for me. This is the first time I have ever experienced this malady, and I hope it will be the last. Wouldn't wish this on anyone.

*Thanks* to all who posted before me on www.earthclinic.com. Without you, I would not have known where to begin.

To your health, Kay
(female, 50, 120 pounds, blond, sensitive skin)

Replied by Quiet
(Wisconsin, Wisconsin, Usa)

Correction: The zinc paste I used was 40% zinc, not 30%. It also contained castor oil, mineral oil, paraffin, Peruvian balsam and petrolatum.

Replied by Quiet
(Wisconsin, Wisconsin, Usa)

There is a real difference in coconut oils.

This URL shows a brief description of the various types of coconut oil available, and their respective uses. http://www.qualityfirst.on.ca/Premium Coconut.htm

The coconut oil I used in my remedy for my impetigo / eczema was called Virgin Oil. This product is said to have an "extremely long shelf life. " I can attest to that. The gallon container I found stored at room temperature in my kitchen was at least four years old and had not turned rancid or changed at all.

Three months after my bout with impetigo, when my daughter got a light itchy rash on her arms (coincidence--it was not the same impetigo or eczema), we used the same regimen for her because it takes the itchiness away. (And, just to be safe, so that it would not develop into full blown impetigo, maybe. ) We were using a new pint of coconut oil I had just bought online, and it didn't work very well. She quickly switched to using the "old" product from the gallon container that I had used and with that had great success.

The new pint of organic coconut oil I bought online had a much stronger smell, was inconsistent in texture, with almost crystal-like chunks in it, and parts of it melted much sooner at room temperature than did the Virgin Oil. It even smelled and tasted a bit rancid, thoroughly ruining its flavor.

I believe Virgin Oil is the best type of coconut oil to use for curing skin conditions.

Replied by Quiet
(Wisconsin, Usa)

UPDATE: My "remedy" posted May, 2012, under Eczema, Multiple Remedies, should be reposted in the category under poison oak, as that category covers remedies for rashes caused by urushiol oil, found in plants such as poison ivy, poison oak, fresh mango, poison sumac, cashews, ginko tree, etc.

My rash was actually caused by mango allergy. Many people do not make this connection immediately, because the itching and rash often starts three days or more after exposure. I, personally, had never heard of mango allergy before, and was completely surprised to learn that mango contains the same poisonous oil found in poison ivy and poison oak.

I deduced, after 15 months and four similar outbreaks, that this new (to me) and mysterious rash was neither eczema nor impetigo--it was an allergic reaction to the poisonous oil, urushiol, found in fresh mango. That explained why I was getting it only on areas exposed to the plant oils--mouth, face, hands, arms, earlobes (where it spread as I bathed my arms with oil contaminated hands, or put in earrings, or ate the fruit, or touched my face for whatever reason, or ate the fruit. ) It occured only on exposed areas. Finally, after my fourth episode, I decided to explore the possibility of food allergies. I googled "mango allergy" and was amazed to find discussion of something I had never heard of before.

I was never a fresh mango eater before my husband returned from a visit to the Philippines and spoke of how he ate mango at every breakfast, because mango is that country's pride and joy, and designated national fruit. I have tasted bits of mango in sherbet and fruit cocktail, and from the salad bar, but had never purchased and cut a fresh mango personally. So, I buy one from the supermarket and get out a knife and try to figure out how to peel, cut and dice this thing. It is messy, I chew flesh off the seed and off the skin because I can't cut it off. I wind up getting a piece of mango skin or of that tiny piece of its stem into my throat and it burns there in the back of my throat. In fact, the back of my throat burned for days after that. (I did mention that to my doctor the first time I saw him, but he waved it off and said that couldn't have caused this rash. )

The reason my initial reaction was so intense, almost "systemic, " was because I actually ingested some of the sap of the fruit. The urushiol oil is most concentrated in the mango's skin, stem and leaves. I also probably did not wash my hands with soap after cutting the fruit, just rinsed them with water, and used the same knife to both peel and dice/cut the fruit. I didn't know any different. I still wonder why stores are not required to post safe handling practice guidelines next to the stand of this fruit... Well, that would be in the USA.

Time is necessary to prove my conclusion--that I merely suffered a mango allergy rash--so I promise to post again in about a year to confirm.

Meanwhile, I can tell you this: If you ever feel a new plant rash coming on, and it is caused by urushiol, be if from poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, cashews, or fresh mango, treat it immediately, *before any blisters form, * with *undiluted Shaklee Classic Basic H. * This will stop the rash from ever developing into blisters. If blisters have already appeared, it is too late for this to work, but *apply it to the surrounding skin anyway* (anywhere where you feel the itching), as a preventative, since you usually get blisters first where there is the greatest concentration of urushiol oil but more can surface later. Another plus--it is completely non-toxic.

Zanfel, another proven way to stop a poison urushiol rash, works on the same principle as Shaklee Classic Basic H, and is also useless to cure blisters after they have already formed, though it will stop new ones from forming on the surrounding skin.

In any event, the multi-step, and admittedly inconvenient, remedy I originally posted in May, 2012, under Eczema, Multiple Remedies, does do a fine job of stopping the active blisters and the itching. I had times when the treated blisters simply receded upon treatment, shrank and disappeared rather than bursting and weeping. The skin did take on the feel of hard orange peel as the blisters faded away, but did heal completely and without a trace of scarring.

Needless to say, I am not happy with the doctor who twice misdiagnosed my condition. He waited until my second visit before taking a lab test, then called me three days later to tell me that nothing grew in the culture. Unfortunately, he had already prescribed and I was already taking his prescription for a 10-day full spectrum antibiotic... That was just my first episode. For my subsequent three episodes, I did not see a doctor, opting to apply my holistic remedy instead, as soon as I realized what was happening, and that seemed to work.

It was frustrating, though, not knowing what was causing it. Mango causes a delayed reaction--usually three or more days--in those allergic to its oils, so I wasn't making the connection.

As I said, time is needed to prove that my four rash episodes over the span of fifteen months (I only bought, peeled and ate fresh mango occasionally) were actually caused by allergy to fresh mango. So I will post again in a few months to confirm.

Incidentally, I have a friend who can cut up six mango at a time without breaking out into a rash. Forewarned, though, I am reluctant to touch things that her urushiol oil contaminated hands have touched. (It binds with the skin, remains on washed clothing, doesn't wash off completely with some hand soaps. )

And, incidentally, these rash blisters do resemble impetigo after they burst, weep and crust over, so I have to give the doctor a little bit of a break. I hear that some eczema--that undefined and incurable enigma--is said to resemble this, too. We must always be careful what we are sure of.

I hope this finds you well.

EC: Dear Quiet, thank you so much for returning to Earth Clinic to provide us with a thorough update! Your posts have been moved to the Poison Oak section, per your request.

Replied by Quiet

As promised, I have returned with an update. I am happy to report that I have had no blistering breakouts in over a year. I have not touched mango in over a year, either.

Certainly, to prove that mango was the cause of those previous outbreaks, I would need to test the theory by touching fresh mango skin intentionally, just to see if I get a rash...but you couldn't pay me to do that. I don't get rashes any more; I'm good with that.


Posted by Suzy (Eugene, Oregon) on 07/10/2015

I ran across this little gem and thought it might be useful. The link is to a blog from an Oregon Search and Rescue. (They often search in areas with Poison Oak)


The treatment is PECTIN... the blog refers to the Certo brand (not much competition on in the PECTIN business, so I would think MCP would work as well)

From that Blog...

"This information was first posted in on July 1,2009. We re-post it here for the benefit of the firefighters who may be looking for a way to minimize the unpleasant effects of poison oak exposure. Since its original posting, I have only heard more and more personal accounts of how using liquid pectin, CERTO, has greatly reduced the extent of eruptions of poison oak and their duration.

Years on the rope rescue team, we were often required us to wrap rope through posion oak for anchors, to walk through it, repel into it, and generally stay exposed without a chance to wash the oils off for many hours. I am a true-believer in this stuff. If you, too, get miserable from poison oak, consider it. You buy it in a grocery store where it is usually found with canning supplies (for jelly).

.....Virtually everyone who has taken their OSSA academy training in Josephine County has heard about using CERTO to prevent and/or treat skin eruptions caused by poison oak. There are no formal drug trials on its efficacy, but anecdotal testimonials abound.....

The dosing regimens I have heard used vary widely, but most use 1 Tablespoon of CERTO daily till gone to prevent outbreaks and 1T twice a day til the package is empty if you already have symptoms. We take ours straight off the spoon, but many mix theirs with guava juice, grape juice, cranapple or any other strongly flavored juice. Possible "side effects" appear to be a slight reduction in your cholesterol, risk of colon cancer and arthritis symptoms. Can't get "side effects" like those from too many medications. There doesn't seem to be any consensus on how often to take CERTO prophylactically, but its effect seems to last at least a month.

Replied by Robert Henry
(Ten Mile, Tn)

HI U SUZY, , , , , , thanks for this, as our little farm is covered. I want to tell you a solution and that is to chew young poison ivy leaves. I was in a medical group and a couple brought this up as a way never to get the problem in the first place.

Since, I's a simi-chicken, I'll do this in the next life. But both the husband and wife said it works. Maybe we can get a response from the EC group.


Replied by Suzy

To Ole Robert Henry-- I am not sure if this works for poison ivy. Here in the Pacific Northwest on the west slopes of the Cascades we have a lot of of the Poison Oak. I was researching this a few weeks ago as I thought I might have the beginning of a case after a hike up the Beautiful McKenzie River. But, I believe I just had some insect bites coupled with 100 degree weather and viola ~ heat rash from hell. Everything happens for a reason... so I thought I would share what I found in here.

Hugs to you and the missus. After years of following your posts I have come to think of you as a long lost uncle (having lost all my real ones as they have crossed over... and I am missing them a whole lot)

Peppermint Oil, Frankincense Oil

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Posted by Becca (Helena, Mt, Usa) on 08/19/2011


I was picking blackberries in Oregon and a few days later I started getting a rash on my wrist. I realized it was poison oak. I did some searches on the net and found that peppermint and franckinsense oil helped others... I used them... It helped me too... and it took the itch out and made it feel cool. It dried up in about 3 days.

Rhus Tox

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Posted by Supertigertv (San Francisco, Ca) on 09/09/2015

There has been a lot of negative comment reaction to a recent news story concerning German Homeopathy Conference attendees.

Please see the news story below and be careful of what you ingest when in the presence of strangers who may mean to cast a bad image on the practice of non-pharmaceutical drug medicine.

See: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/homeopathy-conference-ends-in-chaos-after-delegates-take-hallucinogenic-drug-10491114.html

I just want to set forth my most surprising experience with homeopathic medicine. It involves the use of a medicine called "Rhus Toxicana" which is basically a tiny amount of poison oak in the form of a tiny pill taken under the tongue.

The first time I had gotten Poison Oak from Golden Gate Park in 1994 was the first time in my life. I couldn't believe how horrible it was and went to the medical doctor for treatment, literally fearing that I had contracted some sort of Plague. I had a red, weepy, oozing horrible crusty huge itchy wound across the entire front of my shin. I was sent to a "specialist" doctor who charged a huge fee and prescribed expensive anti-inflammatory drugs that basically did nothing for my misery. It took about a month to completely heal.

The second time I accidentally got poison oak yet AGAIN (probably from my dog who loved to bound into bushes) I was in complete despair to recognize the tell tale symptoms taking over. I loudly complained to friends that I didn't want to waste a bunch of money yet again and be in misery for a month (again). A friend suggested I try the homeopathy treatment called "Rhus Toxicana." I had absolutely no belief in the idea that something so low cost and incomprehensible to me in method could work but I really had nothing to lose. It did not only work it worked OVER NIGHT. So quickly and so cheaply and so completely did this natural cure solve my skin problem that it continued what has become a very enthusiastic hobby in personal testing of natural cures every chance I get. THANK YOU EARTH CLINIC! I was surprised no one else had mentioned this so I am taking the time to list it but perhaps it was just a fluke that happened to only me who knows for sure? My friend did say that historically men who had to work on telephone and electric lines would actually EAT poison ivy to develop immunity to it in order to deal properly with daily exposure to the annoying plant.

EC: Thank you for your feedback!  We actually have 2 other Cures Reported for Rhus Toxicana on our Poison Oak page, one post is from 2007 and the other from 2010.

Replied by Sue
(St. Jospeh, Mi)

I myself am very allergic to poison ivy and got a good case of it this summer. I used the Rhus Tox and it worked really fast for me too. It's a great remedy.

Rhus Tox
Posted by Cleoppa (Cleburne, Tx) on 09/25/2010

I also found the homeopathic remedy Rhus Tox to be amazing for poison oak (though honestly it may have been poison ivy... )

My cousin and I stumbled into some poison oak. We weren't sure if it even was poison oak, but I did some research and heard that rhus tox was helpful. Shortly, we started itching. We went and got some rhus tox. It was amazing. Every time we just barely started tingling that said it was starting to itch, we took another one. Hardly itched at all. This sold me on homeopathy. Before then I wasn't entirely convinced of it.

Rhus Tox
Posted by Marica P (sausalito, usa) on 11/16/2007

I recently started using a classical homeopath for chronic disease for my family. My husband had a severe case of poison oak allergy, he did not have touch the plant to get an outbreak, the dogs would get it on their coats, he would pat them and break out! it was a constant nightmare. He was using soaps and lotions daily for prevention. My homeopath gave him one dose of Rhus Tox homeopathic remedy. (it is poison oak made into a safe very highly diluted substance, where there is no molecular structure of the plant left after many times dilution) You can buy it at health stores or these days at whole foods. DO NOT follow the directions on the packet. Take only one small pellet, place it in 4 oz of spring or filtered water, let it dissolve. Place a small amount of grain alcohol, like ever clear or use gin, place into the bottle for preserve. Before taking the remedy, tap the bottle 10 times on the palm of your hand, this is called succussing, like shaking the mixture but tapping. Then take about a teaspoon, swish gently in your mouth for 30 seconds before swallowing. Take the remedy when you have the symptoms of poison oak. If the symptoms get better do not repeat the remedy, if they get better then relapse take another dose. If you are not new to homeopathy, try the highest dose remedy you have, otherwise try the 30C.