15 Home Remedies for Poison Sumac

poison oak leaves caption home remedies for poison sumac

All of us enjoy getting away from the stress of everyday life by escaping into the woods or to explore the countryside, but that enjoyment can come to an end if someone in the group brushes up against a poisonous plant.

Fortunately, there are plenty of home remedies for poison sumac that can be used in order to relieve the itching, burning and rash that results from contact with this plant.

Though poison sumac does not commonly lead to serious health conditions, those who experience extreme allergic reactions might need to be prepared for emergency relief by consulting a healthcare professional.

13 Home Remedies

We’ve put together the following list of 13 home remedies that have proven helpful to others for relieving the symptoms of poison sumac. You can give each of them a try to see what works best for you.

Keep in mind that not every remedy works for everyone, so if something does not work, just give another option on the list a try. You should be able to find a remedy that will help you find relief from the itching and burning.

One word of warning to keep in mind: make sure you pay attention to possible allergies and sensitivities. Since you will be applying these remedies directly to the skin, you could experience adverse reactions. The last thing you want is to have a reaction that will not only make your poison sumac worse but that will also add additional symptoms you need to combat.

1. Oatmeal

One of the most effective home remedies to help relieve the symptoms of poison sumac is oatmeal. The phenols and avenanthramides found in oatmeal not only help to sooth the irritation of the urushiol oil, but it also has anti-inflammatory properties to help reduce swelling and pain.

What to do:

  • Boil oatmeal in water for a few minutes (it does not need to be fully cooked).
  • Allow it to cool a few minutes and apply it to the affected area while it is still warm.
  • Leave it in place and allow it to dry on its own and then rinse it off later with warm water.
  • Repeat this as necessary until you achieve relief from the symptoms.

oatmeal in a bowl

2. Banana peel

A great home remedy for all sorts of skin irritation involves the use of a banana peel. Its anti-inflammatory and cooling properties are a simple way to treat poison sumac skin irritation and blisters as well.

What to do:

  • Peel a ripe banana.
  • Rub the inside portion of the peel against the affected area being sure to moisten it thoroughly.
  • Allow it to dry on its own and repeat the process several times throughout the day until the irritation subsides.

3. Baking Soda

There is probably no more common ingredient found in every household than baking soda. Baking soda makes an excellent poison sumac home remedy due to its drying and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, because it is alkaline, it helps to reduce the acidic burning produced by the urushiol oil.

What to do:

  • Mix 3 tsp of baking soda in 1 tsp of water to create a thick paste.
  • Apply the paste over the rash and allow it to dry in place.
  • Allow it to wear off or rinse it off with cold water after an hour or so.
  • Reapply this paste as often as necessary to gain relief.

4. White vinegar

Using a cold compress with white vinegar is another top home remedy that successfully treats the symptoms of poison sumac. White vinegar helps to keep the rash from spreading and also helps to cool and relieve the burning and itching.

What to do:

  • Mix ½ cup of white vinegar in 1 ½ cups of ice cold water.
  • Moisten a washcloth in the solution and then press it against the affected area for two minutes.
  • Wait a minute or two and then repeat the process several more times.
  • Repeat this a couple of times daily until the rash is gone.

5. Acorns

Since you are already out in the woods, why not use a home remedy that is available in the woods. Acorns have antiviral and antiseptic properties that are excellent for treating skin irritations, minor burns, cuts, abrasions and also the rash caused by poison sumac.

What to do:

  • Boil several fresh cracked acorns in water for 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Strain out the nuts and allow the water to cool.
  • Dip a cotton ball or cloth in the tannic water and hold it over your rash.
  • Repeat this two or three times daily to get rid of itching, burning, and swelling.
  • You can freeze the solution and use the ice cubes to rub over the area as well.

aloe leaves stacked

6. Aloe vera

When it comes to burning, itching, and swelling, few things provide the cooling relief of aloe vera. This potent herb works well to bring relief to poison sumac irritation as well due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

What to do:

  • Cut open a chute from an aloe vera plant and extract the gel from the inside.
  • Rub this gel on the affected area and allow it to dry.
  • Repeat this as often as necessary until the itching, burning, and swelling have gone away.
  • You can purchase aloe vera gel to keep on hand as well, but make sure that it is 90% aloe vera or more.

7. Cold compress

One of the best home remedies to get control of swelling, itching and irritation right away is to get a cold compress on the area affected by the poison sumac oil. Not only will it reduce the itching and swelling, but it will minimize the spread of the urushiol oil and keep the rash contained to a smaller area.

What to do:

  • Make use of an ice pack, a cloth saturated in ice water or ice cubes.
  • Hold the cold compress over the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • You can freeze small paper cups filled with water and keep them on hand.
  • As you rub the ice over the affected area, tear back the paper of the paper cup to expose more ice.
  • Continue this remedy several times a day until the swelling, itching, and burning subsides.

8. Buttermilk

Drawing the blisters out of a poison sumac rash is one of the best ways to relieve itching and reduce inflammation. A home remedy that will accomplish that end is buttermilk, which has protein and enzymes to help draw the fluid out of the blisters as well as bring soothing relief.

What to do:

  • Blend together equal parts of buttermilk, vinegar, and salt.
  • Rub this mixture over the affected area.
  • Though it will burn a bit, it will relieve the rash more quickly.
  • As an alternative, you can add some buttermilk to warm water and rinse the affected area with it.
  • Repeat either of these remedies daily.

9. Watermelon rind

An excellent home remedy, which is very likely to be close at hand when you are camping or picnicking, is watermelon. The juice, similar to that of a banana peel, has vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that help reduce inflammation and soothe the itch and burning of poison sumac.

What to do:

  • Rub the moist side of a watermelon rind over the affected area.
  • Allow the juice to dry on its own.
  • Repeat this as often as necessary until the symptoms are relieved.

10. Rubbing alcohol

An effective home remedy which is also pretty common in most households is rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol in a 70% isopropyl solution is excellent for disinfecting the area affected by poison sumac. It also helps to cool the burning sensation while preventing infection.

What to do:

  • Saturate a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and apply it to the affected area.
  • Allow it to evaporate on its own.
  • Reapply as often as necessary to help relieve symptoms.

11. Raw potato

You might not expect a raw potato to be an effective home remedy for treating poison sumac, but it is one of the best and easiest to come by. The vitamins, minerals, and starches in potatoes helps to dry up and relieve the itching, burning, and swelling of the rash.

What to do:

  • Cut a slice off of a raw potato.
  • Rub the moist side of the slice over the affected area, saturating it well.
  • Allow the juice to dry in place.
  • Reapply as often as necessary using a fresh potato.

12. Coffee

Pouring coffee on the rash of poison sumac is a home remedy that you would not think of right off. The tannins in coffee help to neutralize the spread of the oil and also brings relief to the itching and burning; that is, if you use cold coffee.

What to do:

  • Brew coffee that is pretty strong.
  • Allow it to cool and then use a washcloth or soft cloth soaked in the coffee as a compress over the affected area.
  • Another option is to place coffee bags (like tea bags) or press the used, moist filter over the affected area.
  • Repeat several times a day until symptoms subside.

coffee beans

13. Black tea bags

Similar to coffee, black tea has tannins which help to relieve the symptoms from coming in contact with poison sumac. Black tea not only helps to relieve itching and burning, but it acts as a drawing agent to help dry out the blisters on the rash.

What to do:

  • Place 2 or 3 black tea bags in hot water for about 5 minutes.
  • Remove the tea bags and allow them to cool a bit.
  • Place the tea bags over the area like a compress and hold them in place for about 20 minutes.
  • Repeat this process 2 to 3 times throughout the day.

14. Turmeric

One of the best home remedies for relieving inflammation of any kind is turmeric. Curcumin, a compound in turmeric, is extremely effective at relieving inflammation. Turmeric also has antibacterial properties to help in treating poison sumac as well.

What to do:

  • Add ½ tsp of lemon juice or white vinegar to 1 tsp of turmeric powder.
  • Mix into a paste and apply the paste over the affected area.
  • Allow the paste to dry completely before rinsing off or allowing to wear off on its own.
  • Repeat this several times per day until the rash is gone.

15. Cucumber

Another great kitchen ingredient which makes an excellent home remedy for the relief of poison sumac is cucumber. Cucumbers are mostly water, but they also contain a lot of vitamins and minerals which help relieve itching and swelling.

What to do:

  • Slice a cucumber and rub the moist end of the slices over the affected area.
  • Allow the juice to dry in place.
  • An alternate method is to put the cucumbers in a food processor and create a paste which you apply to the affected area.
  • Repeat this 2 or 3 times a day to get rid of the rash.


Don’t let your outdoor picnic or camping fun stop because someone in the group got attacked by a poisonous plant. Be prepared whenever you go to the woods or the countryside and have the ingredients for one or several of the 15 home remedies for poison sumac on hand. If you have other remedies to add to our list or have comments or questions to add, please do not hesitate to do so in the space provided.

Images: depositphotos.com.