So you dis­cov­ered a remote trail and pushed through brush and bram­ble all the way to some stun­ning secret sum­mit. But you wore shorts and a T‑shirt, and you woke up feel­ing itch­i­er than a flea-rid­den New­fie on a mid­sum­mer’s day. With about as much regard as a hairy dog, you’re inclined to scratch and scratch, des­per­ate for reprieve. That only makes it worse because you don’t have fleas and you don’t have claws; you’ve got poi­son oak, and you’ve got to get this under con­trol before you lose it. Relief is clos­er than you think! Just fol­low these essen­tial tips for nat­u­ral­ly rem­e­dy­ing the pain, pus­tules, and per­sis­tence of poi­son oak.

Poison OakLeaves of three, let them be
It may be too late to avoid the plant you exposed your­self to, but if you don’t know what poi­son oak looks like, you could very well re-expose your­self with­out know­ing it. The rule of thumb is the above quote because poi­son oak plants are char­ac­ter­ized by the three leaves that clus­ter at the end of a long stem. Keep an eye out for a waxy fin­ish on these leaves, which will be green through­out the spring and sum­mer but change to a red or orange col­or dur­ing the fall.

Wash with oil-neu­tral­iz­ing soap
That itchy, burn­ing rash you’ve bro­ken out with after poi­son oak expo­sure is caused by urush­i­ol, “an oily organ­ic aller­gen found in plants of the fam­i­ly Anac­ar­diaceae, espe­cial­ly Tox­i­co­den­dron spp. (e.g., poi­son oak, poi­son ivy, poi­son sumac). In sen­si­tive indi­vid­u­als, urush­i­ol can cause an aller­gic skin rash on con­tact,[1] known as urush­i­ol-induced con­tact der­mati­tis.” In order to help the asso­ci­at­ed rash feel bet­ter, you’ll want to wash with a soap that will aim to get rid of or at least reduce the oil on your skin. Burt’s Bees makes one that has kaolin, jew­el­weed, pine tar and tea tree oil that helps to coun­ter­act the reac­tion of the urush­i­ol and offers a sooth­ing feel.

Banana Peel
Accord­ing to anec­do­tal evi­dence, plac­ing the inside of a fresh banana peel direct­ly on a patch of skin that’s irri­tat­ed by poi­son oak can help alle­vi­ate the itch­ing and pain. The peel is said to hav­ing cool­ing qual­i­ties. Sim­i­lar reme­dies that are said to work well include water­mel­on and cucum­ber, both of which should be cut and placed direct­ly on poi­son oak-inflamed skin.

Essen­tial oils
Laven­der is beau­ti­ful and fra­grant, and as an essen­tial oil, has ther­a­peu­tic prop­er­ties. It is said to be an anti­sep­tic and anti-inflam­ma­to­ry, and it has a sooth­ing effect on minor burns and skin prob­lems. Dis­cov­ery Health includes laven­der oil in an “aro­mather­a­py poi­son oak cure,” which is made with: 3 drops of laven­der oil, 3 drops of cypress oil, 3 drops of pep­per­mint oil, 1/2 tea­spoon of salt, 1 table­spoon of warm water, 1 table­spoon of apple cider vine­gar and 1 ounce of cal­en­du­la tinc­ture. The direc­tions are as fol­lows: “Dis­solve the salt in the water and vine­gar; then add the oth­er ingre­di­ents. Shake well to dis­perse and again before each use. Apply exter­nal­ly as need­ed to the rash.”

Bak­ing soda
Bak­ing soda, found in near­ly every cup­board every­where, is said to reduce the swelling and itch­ing asso­ci­at­ed with poi­son oak. You’ll want to cre­ate a bak­ing soda paste with three parts bak­ing soda and one part water. Spread it on the rash, allow it to dry and leave it on for as long as you’re com­fort­able, even after it has turned pow­dery again. This will help ease the itch and burn of irri­tat­ed skin.