Tag Archives: poison ivy

Connecticut woods in June




Early morning sunlight reveals interesting veining on these Sassafras leaves

My Sassafras patch is thriving after removing a few saplings that were blocking sunlight. I located another Sassafras near my driveway that would benefit from clearing more saplings and a few of the larches that the previous property owners planted (that are not doing well in that location anyway).


Poison ivy casts leaf-shaped shadows


Beautiful birch bark that seems to have some kind of black mold


Clustered Bellflower Campanula glomerata is a volunteer that was most likely the result of a migrating bird. I initially thought this was in the Gentian family.

The Clustered Bellflower is a food source to butterflies and other pollinators so I will let it stay.


The only characteristic of this Clustered Bellflower that is different from images I found online is the flower stem on my plant is green while those in other photos are red.

The book New England Wildflower Society’s flora Novae Angliae : a manual for the identification of native and naturalized higher vascular plants of New England by Arthur Haines (2011) indicates that Campanula glomerata has been found in many New England states except Connecticut. I’m guessing a migrating bird dropped the seeds and they are now naturalizing.


The itchies — what I do


I have mentioned in previous posts that I suffer from chemical sensitivities. I try to avoid allowing anything to touch my skin that might cause a reaction. I do not wear foundation makeup, use minimal mascara and typically use an organic lip balm. As for cleansers and moisturizers, I wash my face with warm water using a flannel cloth, applying refined organic coconut oil afterward. That is the whole of my facial care. On rare occasions, I do find myself with strange outbreaks that one doctor told me are caused by rosacea. And, lately, I find my skin very itchy in certain places: on the front of my lower legs, my shoulders, and my forearms (which might be related to peri-menopause).

When you go to the store you can find itch creams, steroid creams, soothing creams, and by prescription much more powerful versions of all of these. I have limited my treatments to a couple of herb-based, natural products that you won’t typically find in the drug store. I get the following from my local health food store.

Natural Treatments for Skin Problems

Melaleuca quinquenervia bark. Credit: Wikipedia Commons. Author: Ianare Sevi.

Melaleuca quinquenervia bark. Credit: Wikipedia Commons. Author: Ianare Sevi.

1. Tea tree oil. Extracted from the Australion melaleuca tree, tea tree oil is reputed to be antifungal, antimicrobial, and good for almost anything that ails the skin. I have had limited results with its use for any kind of itches. I do rub it on enlarged lymph nodes and apply it to sores to aid in healing. But it is not my first choice for itchy skin. Tea tree oil is good for adding to shampoo if you suffer from dandruff or eczema. It even works on nail fungus (use full-strength on nails 2-3 times a day and allow to sit without wiping or washing off).

Tea tree oil should not be used full-strength on the skin; use a carrier oil to apply to skin such as coconut, almond or other carrier oil.

Warning: Tea tree oil is toxic if ingested. DO NOT DRINK or use in mouth. For external use only. Keep out of the reach of children.

(Calendula officinalis). Credit: Wikipedia Commons. Author: Reaper.

(Calendula officinalis). Credit: Wikipedia Commons. Author: Reaper.

2. Calendula. This is the winner for itches and rashes! After the birth of my youngest son I developed a horrible rash on my chest and abdomen from the hospital gown I wore for a few hours before going home. My doctor told me that they use powerful detergents and bleach to wash hospital gowns and recommended calendula spray (which she said is safe for nursing babies). I found some Hylands Calendula spray in my local healthfood store and have had it in my “medicine chest” ever since. Spray directly on skin and allow to dry.

Poison Ivy: I discovered that it is miraculous in staving off full-blown poison ivy rashes if used as soon as the ridges appear from exposure. Wash the area in warm, soapy water and spray calendula directly on skin, allowing to dry without wiping or rubbing. The poison ivy rash will disappear before your very eyes.

Rosacea: I also keep a calendula ointment that works wonders for healing rosacea sores (they look like acne) overnight as well immediately soothing dry, itchy skin. When my current container is gone I found another brand with a non-petroleum base that I will purchase.

3. Pure lanolin. This is excellent for nursing moms. You can apply it directly to sore nipples without washing it off before nursing. Of course, I recommend organic lanolin derived from organically raised and processed wool.

Identify Source of Problem First — Final Recommendations

It is always a good idea to identify the cause of skin irritations before attempting to treat even with herbs, extracts, or essential oils. Sometimes itchiness is a sign of liver problems or candida yeast overgrowth. Changing the diet, eliminating sugar, limiting toxins (especially in liver problems) are all important steps to take in resolving long-term itchy skin problems. Adding probiotics to your diet, making sure you get a proper balance of essential fatty acids, and limiting simple carbs might help.

Disclaimer: Please check with your healthcare provider before starting any treatment. You can check for interactions with your local pharmacist; they are trained to check for interactions between natural products / supplements and prescription / over-the-counter medications. DO NOT USE any of these products on an infant or child without checking with child’s pediatrician first.