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poison oak

  • Genita

Does tea tree oil work to get rid of a poison oak rash? My son stayed with his cousin the other night and came back home with a rash all over his face. He said they were playing in the woods and digging in the dirt and he started itching like crazy when they got back to the house. This morning his face was very red,swollen,and itchy.I put aloe on it and earlier I mixed almond oil and tea tree oil together and put that on him.I can see tiny little bumps coming up and it's migrating down his neck.What to do? Some people are telling me I will have to get him a steroid shot to get rid of it.

Replies to this topic

Hi Genita~

We posted your question over on our Facebook page~ You have been getting responses over there from some very kind people.



I'm so sorry to hear about your son and poison oak. What a drag! I'd imagine enough time has passed now where you have taken him to your doctor or you are seeing an improvement. Did you try the tea tree? Did you see any improvements?

Good luck with your treatments for your son! Please let us know how it turned out~


¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)
(¸.•´ (¸*´¨( Kristie {Spirit Horse Herbals} PoppySwappin' @ http://www.poppyswap.com/shop/SpiritHorseHerbals
  • Genita
  • Genita

Tea tree helps with the itching for a couple of hours but it does not make the rash go away. I used some steroid cream on him and almost all of the rash is gone. Thank you so much for posting my question on facebook!

  • greenjourney
  • greenjourney


I'm hoping the worst is over with your son's poison oak rash by now. I'm also very sensitive to this plant and have learned how to identify it even in winter.

Here's a brief description from the Winter Twig Identification Handbook compiled by Tobias Policha, 2006. (Thanks, my friend, once again!)

"Poison Oak Warning

One caution that should be taken by anyone who ventures out into the field, particularly at lower elevations in the Pacific Northwest, is an awareness of Poison Oak. Urushiol, the active compound that causes inflammatory, oozing rashes on contact with the skin is still active during the winter. This may be reason enough to learn to identify winter twigs. While Poison Oak is recognizable in leaf by its three leaflets, in the winter it can be a trickster.

Twigs: Grey - reddish; Densely fuzzy; Often climbing by aerial roots that project from the stems.

Leaf Scars: Alternate; Broadly U-shaped.

Buds: Naked; Exposed leaves, densely hairy.

Fruits: A panicle of dry fruits; Often persistent; Grey - white.

Know This Plant!"

I'm passing this on to you on behalf of your son and his cousin, hoping they will learn to avoid the suffering by knowing and respecting the plant. When I think I may have touched it, I always wash well with soap and water as soon as possible. The idea is to try to get the Urushiol off before it causes inflammation. I find the Marie's Original Poison Oak Soap helps alot to soothe/ease the itching and stop the rash from spreading if I do get a reaction. Here's the website, but it is also commonly available in local stores around here. http://www.poisonoaksoap.com/

For what it's worth,


Aline Crehore, Green Journey Seeds
In Plants We Trust
  • Genita
  • Genita

Thanks Aline! We had to give up on the steroid cream because it started making things worse! It worked good for a couple of days then it just stopped working. I went to a herbal store and found some poison ivy soap with jewelweed in it and so far that has worked the best. He still has the rash between some of his fingers and a spot on his leg but were working on it.

  • smlowry
  • smlowry

Here in Maine we use Sweet Fern for poison ivy, oak, and sumac rashes. It's practically a miracle plant. Despite its name it's not a fern but a woody shrub w/fern like leaves that smell wonderfully, sweetly resiny. I tell people to make a very strong tea with the leaves and apply it with a compress. I also make it into a salve, but salve isn't appropriate for all rashes as you want to dry out the little blisters that form. The tea could be mixed with clay and applied to the rash. Sweet fern grows in poor sandy soil, in roadsides, forest edges, with white pines - which is where it grows on my property. You might be able to find some of the dried herb online, and it will work. If there was a way of uploading a picture from my computer's hard drive I would. But a google search will provide info and pics.

Over on Facebook 7Song (Director of the Northeast School of Botanical Medicine) offers a really great plant comparison between poison oak and virginia creeper~ Here is the link (because for the life of me I can't figure out how to post an image here on the forum) which I hope you can see the image and then the description he offers is below. VERY helpful!




From 7Song~

Plant comparison time. These two plants are sometimes confused, especially in early Spring. On the left is Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans, Anacardiaceae) and on the right is Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Vitaceae). In Spring they both exhibit shiny young leaves and can also grow near each together especially along disturbed ground.
Both are palmately compound leaves, each leaf composed of leaflets originating from a central point. The biggest difference is that Poison ivy has 3 leaflets and Virginia creeper usually 5, though uncommonly 3. An important point is that Poison ivy has a lot of variability in shape and coloration, but always 3 leaflets.
The next difference is that Virginia creeper has teeth along the margins while Poison ivy generally does not. Look at many leaflets of the same plant to see if the teeth along the margin of the leaflets are consistent, as they will be in Virginia creeper.
The leaflets of Poison ivy also tend to be somewhat irregularly shaped, if you look at different leaflets you will often find an assortment of lobe shapes amongst them.
There are other differences, but these are a few good beginner tips
Pisgah NF, outside Barnardsville, NC. April 21, 2011

  • greenjourney
  • greenjourney

Great discussion east and west! I'll take this opportunity to welcome our new herbalist Susan, and thank her for mentioning a "miracle" herb I am unfamiliar with...would that be Comptonia peregrine? I'm inclined to like it from all that you said, and since my grandson's name is also Peregrine!

I would add that the key to posting images is the button to the left of the smiley face library in the toolbar of this reply pane. The image needs to exist on the web first, to give it a URL address, then the URL gets pasted in the dialog that comes up when you click on the image button.

I'll try to get a photo of the winter twig of Pacific Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum ... with a zoom lens and post it here.

Oh, and the image size needs to fit the column width, or it will be cut off (cropped) when published.

Sharing is oneness

  • 7Song
  • 7Song

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