Best Essential Oils For Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, And Sumac

Is your rash driving you nuts? Need some relief?

Of course you do!

Almost 50 million Americans each year are affected by Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, or Sumac. Click To Tweet

Essential oils make great calming alternatives in these cases.

In addition to speeding up the healing process and decreasing the risk of developing an infection, these oils can also help to reduce symptoms such as itchiness, swelling, and redness.

Symptoms Of Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, And Sumac

Poison ivy, oak, and sumac grow almost all around the States, with the exception of Hawaii, Alaska, and the Southwestern deserts.

All three plants contain an oil called urushiol which is responsible for causing the rashes. Between 80% and 85% of the people are allergic to this oil, and in 15% of them, the symptoms are severe.

The rash usually appears within 24-72 hours after coming into contact with the plant, most commonly on the exposed body parts like legs, feet, and hands.

The rashes caused by poison ivy, oak, and sumac are very similar – blistering, itchy, and red. However, they’re not infectious, i.e. usually don’t spread to other parts of the body.

Before you try to treat these rashes with natural remedies like essential oils, consult your doctor to be sure that they’re not caused by other skin problems like dermatitis, eczema, or allergies.

Essential oils are best when used in conjunction with conventional medications. Conventional rash treatments include special lotions, antihistamines and, in more severe reactions, corticosteroids.

If the rash becomes severe and starts causing complications like patches on the face, swollen mouth or eyes, breathing issues, painful rash, etc., visit your doctor immediately.

Benefits Of Using Essential Oils On Rashes

When applied externally, certain essential oils may be very soothing. The best aromatic oils for rashes are those that have the following properties:

  • Antiseptic and antibacterial, to fight infections.
  • Anti-inflammatory, to soothe redness, irritation, and rash.
  • Antipruritic, to alleviate severe itching (pruritus).
  • Analgesic, to alleviate possible pains.
  • Antihistamine, to decrease the appearance of allergic reactions on the skin.

In addition, the following essential oils possess repairing abilities that strengthen the skin. They also hydrate the skin and boost the production of collagen, which helps the skin heal faster.

List Of The Best Essential Oils For Poison Ivy, Oak, And Sumac Rashes


Chamomile has powerful anti-allergic, antipruritic, and antihistamine properties. This oil helps relieve inflammation, itching, and pain. In addition, it protects from infections, enhances blood flow, and speeds up the healing process.

For best results, experts suggest using chamomile oil in conjunction with antihistamine medications.

Tea tree

This oil has antiseptic and antibacterial properties which help relieve itching and inflammation. It also strengthens the protective skin barrier.


Lavender has antihistamine properties which help soothe allergic rashes. In addition, its properties help soothe pain, itching, and inflammation, whereas the antiseptic and antibacterial properties help keep potential infections at bay.

Lavender oil also improves collagen production and boosts blood flow, thus speeding up the healing process.


Peppermint has potent antipruritic, antispasmodic, and anti-inflammatory properties which help relieve itching and pain. It also protects from infections.


Frankincense oil has strong anti-inflammatory qualities. It enhances collagen production, thus helping speed up the healing process, without leaving any scar tissue.


Oregano oil has strong anti-inflammatory, antihistamine, and antibacterial properties. Bear in mind though, that this oil is very powerful and must always be diluted with a carrier oil.


This essential oil contains menthol, a compound with a soothing and cooling effect which is great for inflamed skin. It also helps relieve the pain and speeds up the recovery process. Eucalyptus oil is quite mild and can be used undiluted.


Rose oil prevents severe allergies by enhancing the immune system. In addition, it soothes inflamed skin, thus speeding up the healing process. For best results, combine it with another essential oil from our list.


This oil relieves itching, thus preventing the rash from spreading. It has potent antiseptic properties which help keep the skin clean and prevent infections. It pairs great with carrier oils such as coconut oil or with Aloe Vera to relieve pain.

Alternative Oils That Have Soothing Effects On The Skin

  • Basil – has anti-inflammatory properties, relieves itching.
  • Cardamom – relieves pain and keeps the wounds clean.
  • Geranium – relieves itching.
  • Carrot seed – has antiseptic effects, prevents scarring.
  • Helichrysum – relieves pain and regenerates skin tissue.
  • Myrrh – has anti-inflammatory effects, helps with rashes and itchy skin, speeds up the healing of wounds and relieves pain.
  • Patchouli –excellent for various skin problems including psoriasis, eczema, and rashes.
  • Palmarosa –anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, stimulates new cell growth.
  • Spikenard –anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, soothes the skin.
  • Vetiver –anti-inflammatory effects, boosts immunity.

How To Properly Use Essential Oils On Rashes

The best way to use these oils is through external application so that they can soothe the affected area immediately.

Since essential oils are highly concentrated, people with sensitive skin should dilute essential oils with a carrier oil to reduce its strength before applying topically. The best carrier oil, in this case, is coconut oil and the ratio is 5-10 drops of essential oil to an ounce of carrier. As a rule of thumb, the more sensitive the skin, the smaller the amount of essential oil should be.

Other great carrier oils for treating rashes are:

  • Olive
  • Jojoba
  • Macadamia
  • Tamanu
  • CBD Hemp
  • Black Seed

You can also use aromatic oils to make compresses. Add 3 drops of the essential oil you prefer (or a combination of two or three different oils from the list) to a clean cloth soaked in water. Apply to the affected area until it warms.

Since the oil in the compress isn’t diluted, start by applying once a day to check for a possible allergic reaction. If there’s no such reaction within 48 hours, you can continue applying the compress twice to three times a day. Alternatively, you can dilute the essential oil or use compresses from time to time.

Soothing Essential Oil Recipes

Anti-Itch Mix


  • 1 oz. coconut oil
  • 2 drops Chamomile oil
  • 2 drops Lavender oil
  • 3 drops Peppermint oil

Mix all ingredients well and apply to the affected area.

Soothing Spray


  • ½ pack Lavender hydrosol spray
  • ½ pack Aloe Vera Gel
  • 15 drops Frankincense oil
  • 10 drops Basil oil

Mix all ingredients in a spray bottle. Apply to the affected area twice a day.

Cooling Salve


  • 5 oz. beeswax
  • 4 oz. coconut oil
  • 5 drops Lavender oil
  • 5 drops Peppermint oil
  • 1 drop Chamomile oil

Melt the coconut oil and beeswax over simmering water. Let them cool slightly, then add the oils and stir to combine. Let the mixture cool completely.

Apply to the affected area twice or three times a day.

Relieving Mix


  • 1 tablespoon warm water
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 drop Chamomile oil
  • 2 drops Lavender oil
  • 1 drop Peppermint oil
  • 1 drop Eucalyptus oil

Mix the apple cider vinegar and water. Add the salt and stir until it melts. Add the oils and mix well. Spray on the wound daily. Keep in a dark glass bottle.

Cool Compress


  • 1 cup water (cold)
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan salt
  • 2 drops Tea Tree oil
  • 2 drops Lavender oil

Combine the salt and essential oils. Add the water and stir to dissolve the salt. Soak a cloth in the mixture and apply to the affected area until it warms.

Relieving Rub


  • 10 drops Lavender oil
  • 9 drops Spearmint oil
  • 10 drops Copaiba balsam
  • 1 oz. Aloe Vera Gel
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Combine the essential oils and Aloe Vera Gel in a bottle. Apply apple cider vinegar to the affected area using a cotton ball. Once it dries, smear the Aloe Vera mix.

Soothing Bath


  • 2 ½ cups quick oats
  • 1 pack baking soda
  • 1 drop Palmarosa oil
  • 3 drops Chamomile oil

Pour the oats and oils in a muslin bag, then tie it with a string. Dissolve the baking soda in the bath water, then add in the muslin bag. Soak up for 20-30 minutes once or twice a day.

Soothing Compress


  • 1 cup ground oats
  • 1 drop Patchouli oil
  • 2 drops Peppermint oil
  • 3 drops Eucalyptus oil
  • 1 drop Palmarosa oil
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • water

Combine the oats, water, and honey. Add the oils and mix well. Apply to the affected area and let dry completely, then wash off with cold water.

In Conclusion

If you find yourself with an uncomfortable rash from poison ivy, oak, or sumac, essential oils can be of great help. However, the result largely depends on the affected area and on how sensitive your skin is.

It’s very important to use essential oils the right way in order to avoid further irritations. If you are unsure whether a certain essential oil is appropriate for you, consult a qualified aromatherapist. See your doctor for an accurate diagnosis and suitable medications if necessary.

I'm a full-time writer & blogger focused on health and nutrition. I investigate topics that I find interesting and experiment with healthy ingredients in the kitchen. In my spare time, I like reading and playing with my daughter.
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