The Short Answer . . . .from Karin


I get re-occurring poison oak ever since I had a bad case of it – it may be systemic, how do I keep it from spreading?

Whether it is poison oak or ivy, the oils hunker down into the pores of skin and are easily spread by contact, moisture and heat.  It is possible for certain compounds in the oils to get into the bloodstream (termed ‘systemic’) although the mechanics of this are not well understood.  Treat any contact aggressively by washing well in warm (not hot) water) with a drying soap – Dr. Bronners peppermint soap works well and soothes itch.  Pat dry with a clean towel (all towels exposed to oils must be washed each time).   Make a paste of green or bentonite clay and tincture or tea of manzanita leaf, plantain, sage, oak bark, lemon or apple cider vinegar (or a combination).  Cover all rashes with clay and leave on as long as it stays on.  Do not use any lotions or oils on your body at this time – you want to draw out and dry up any oils in the rash. If you can keep skin exposed throughout the day that helps.  At night rashes can spread easily by unconscious scratching and heat.  Before bed, re-apply clay and cover area with loose, light clothing.  Never use the same clothes twice until rash is gone and do not touch the rash!  Stay out of hot tubs, baths and shower after perspiring exercise.  Once the rash is gone, you can take a sauna (as more oils may come out), but wash off well and do not use any body oils or lotions afterwards.  Monitor for the next few days to be sure rash is gone. Be sure to wash your free-roaming pets – they are a great vector of poison oak!
Homeopathic Rhus tox or Hylands Poison oak/ivy combination taken internally help decrease the tendency of rash to spread systemically and helps treat systemic cases.  Even better, take the homeopathic remedy before you are exposed. Calming teas like lemon balm, catnip, and linden help soothe and reduce the inflammatory response.  To move it out of your system use a combination of detox herbs that target lymph and skin: burdock root and/or seed, violet leaf/flower, red clover flower and yellow dock root.