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If you’ve struggled with a poison ivy outbreak, you know what it feels like to get rid of that itchy rash ASAP. While your poison ivy probably can’t be cured overnight, there are treatment options to help relieve the pain, such as: B. Soothing moisturizers and topical or oral corticosteroids. But you may be wondering about more natural remedies, like the wide variety of essential oils that advertise various healing properties. Can any of them really work against poison ivy?
Before opting for any natural treatment such as essential oils, it is first helpful to understand your exposure.
“The ivy rash” itches until you bleed “is an allergic reaction to the highly allergic vegetable oil urushiol,” explains Dr. Yufang Lin, a physician at the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative Medicine. “As soon as the plant touches the skin, the vegetable oil quickly penetrates the skin, where it stimulates the white blood cells to react. Once activated, the reaction can take a week or two.”
Conventional therapy for poison ivy includes lotions and ointments to tame itching, in addition to steroids to suppress inflammation, says Dr. Lin.
“If you are able to remove the oil from your skin within hours of exposure, you may be able to avoid symptoms altogether, or at least significantly reduce symptoms,” says Dr. Lin.
Certain natural treatments like peppermint oil might help a little, adds Dr. Brian Kim, co-director of the Center for Pruritus Studies at Washington University Medical School in St. Louis. “But these treatments are nowhere near as effective at getting rid of the inflammation as they are [oral or topical corticosteroids],” he says.
As soon as possible after known exposure, Dr. Lin to wash the area very well with dish soap and water. Once the rash starts, she recommends using an over-the-counter poison ivy scrub, which can help lift the oil off the skin. Be patient and follow the directions as scrubbing can take a few minutes per site, which can often prevent the rash from progressing.
When to use essential oils for poison ivy
Then when you want to try an essential oil, there are three ways you can use it: you can dilute it with distilled water for an herbal wash, you can make a topical gel by mixing the oils with aloe vera, or you can apply an herbal tea to your skin.
For a wash or a gel: Lavender, helichrysum, roman chamomile, rose, tea tree, and geranium can be good options for treating poison ivy because they have anti-inflammatory properties, says Dr. Lin. You should avoid using citrus-based essential oils, however, as these add to photosensitivity and can burn already irritated skin as well, she says.
“Make sure the laundry is diluted to no more than 2% (that is, 10-12 drops per ounce of water or aloe),” she says. “In this case, avoid using oil as a carrier as the poison ivy rash tends to be hot and puffy. You don’t want to trap the heat with oil. ”
For the current tea: Start by washing the affected area with a cooling herbal tea with anti-inflammatory properties like chamomile, lavender, or oatmeal, recommends Dr. Lin. This can help soothe the rash, reduce itching, and aid healing. To make a tea, soak the flower or plant material in hot water, let it cool, soak a towel in the tea (soaking liquid) and apply it to the area in question.
The bottom line on essential oils for poison ivy
Essential oils can potentially help relieve symptoms, but they shouldn’t be your first line of defense when treating poison ivy.
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