Poison oak, ivy and sumac are found throughout the United States. If you are one of the many who is allergic to these prevalent plants, then you know all too well the itchy, uncomfortable symptoms that are caused by the colorless oil, urushiol, contained within these plants. Hot, sometimes painfully itchy rashes, blisters & swelling that can take weeks to heal.
Below we share with you a few tips and at-home-remedies inspired by the wisdom of Ayurveda, to help combat the intense discomfort of these widespread plants.
1. First things first… Rash Prevention!
Become familiar with where poison oak, ivy and sumac grow in your area and what they look like.
If you are allergic, then preventing the rashes from manifesting is key! Washing all clothes, tools and pets that have come into contact with the plant is a must, in order to prevent further contamination.
You have probably heard of the homeopathic product, Tecnu. It is a great way to prevent any rash outbreak. Use on clothing, tools and pets to break-up the urushiol oil that has been transferred from the plant. You can also use Tecnu to wash off, but we personally like to use Marie’s Poison Oak Soap for the body. It is all-natural and helps to pull-out any toxins and oil residue from the skin.
2. If the Rash Appears
Keep the rash clean, cool and dry. Applying an ice pack or compress to the rash is beneficial to relieve the itch and calm inflammation.
Take an oatmeal bath.
Combine 1/4 cup of oatmeal flour with 1 tablespoon epsom salt and 1 tablespoon lavender powder in tepid NOT hot water. Soak affected area for 10 minutes, minimum. This will help soothe the skin and reduce itching.
Make an Ayurvedic Healing Lepa.
In Ayurveda, when you create an herb paste and apply it topically to the skin, it is called a lepa. Here is a simple skin lepa to reduce the inflammation, itchiness, weeping and swelling. It will also draw out any remaining toxins from the skin and promote healing.
Combine in a small bowl:
- 16 grams turmeric powder
- 16 grams sandalwood powder
- 8 grams neem powder
- 8 grams comfrey powder
- 8 grams manzanita berry powder
- 8 grams bentonite clay
Slowly combine to the powdered herbs equal parts of:
- aloe vera juice
- apple cider vinegar
The consistency should be paste-like.
Apply to affected area and cover with a bandage. Keep on throughout the day, reapplying as necessary.
Use an Anti-Itch Spray
Living in Northern California, we are all too familiar with poison oak! Our own itches, rashes and painful experiences with the plant inspired the formulation of our Anti-itch Remedy. This spray is specifically designed to ease the itch, rash and weeping of poison oak, ivy and sumac. You can even use it to reduce the itch of the common bug bite.
We have been told by a number of people that our cooling Pitta Aromatherapy Spritzer helps to ease the itchiness associated with poison oak, ivy and sumac. This makes sense since our spritzer combines the cooling energy of peppermint with the soothing properties of sandalwood and lavender. Try adding 2-4oz of apple cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon of dead sea salt to your Pitta Aromatherapy Spritzer to increase the desired effect on your itchy rash.
Although poison oak and its friends, ivy & sumac, wreak havoc on some of us humans…it serves a purpose. It protects the natural world and preserves it. Here is a Poison Oak Prayer we would like to share to cultivate respect and love for these powerful plants.
“I venerate you shape-shifter, in all your forms: red, golden, green, and dormant stick manifestations. I honor you Sentry at the trail mouth, Shrewd Witness from the fringes. I honor you Foot Soldier in the field – you Warrior in the high and low lands, in the wood, in the valley, on the mountain, by the river, the lake, the ocean – you Guardian, Gatekeeper, Watchman – you Squatter, Undeveloper, Restorationist, Preservationist. I honor you Offering, giving to many what was given first to you by the sun, you Merchant of Energy. I honor you Freedom Fighter, you Activist, defending the equal right of all beings to sacred lands. I give thanks to you Poison Oak, Rhus diversiloba, for the places I will never tread, for the blank spaces on the map that remain blank, for the mystery you maintain. May your magic garden be forever beautiful, and may the Leaves of Three always be. Amen, or (if you prefer) Aplants”. – Fletcher Tucker
Trudy & Leah