Breastfeeding with Poison Oak & My Oatmeal Treatment

I have probably been complaining enough about my poison oak so you know the story, right? If not, no laughing at me, ok? I hope that another breastfeeding mama doesn’t have to deal with this same situation but in case she does, I am there for her.

What happened?

I went on a nature hike with the family to Lake Anza in Tilden Regional Park this past weekend and two days later, I look like this:

COATED IN POISON OAK RASH! Do you see how it has made my chin all swollen? I thought I always wanted a cleft chin but nope, I changed my mind. A deformed, rash induced cleft chin is not sexy.

The rash spans from under my breasts, on one of my nipples, up my neck to my mouth. There is even a little bit near and in my eye, thanks to my loving toddler. Yes, I am totally blaming this one on the baby. I carried her for half of the walk, letting her breastfeed as she pleased. (I love nursing on nature walks. Or until this happened anyway…) Whenever she wanted to walk around with her big sister, I put her down and she had fun playing with sticks and stomping in mud and crunchy leaves. I think one of the leaf-less twigs she was holding was a poison oak. When I picked her up again at some point in our walk, she jabbed me in the mouth and eye with it before I threw it far away. She cried. I don’t like getting poked by sticks. I digress. And now, because I’m such a sweet mother, I am exploding with a nasty rash and my daughters have had no reactions what-so-ever.

I am swearing off nature for a month.

I’ve been googling everything I can think of to help make my rash less itchy, less weepy, heal faster, you name it. So far I’ve tried calamine lotion, fresh aloe, and Tecnu.

Today’s experiment: Oatmeal Treatment

Here is the a pretty decent oatmeal treatment for soothing the weepy blisters and drying them out that I tried today. I like the instant cooling action but did not care for the dry, cracking, and itching that happened when I washed it off. Maybe I won’t touch it at all next time.

(If you’re gagging over the inappropriateness of my breasts or using them to jerk-off, please moooove along.)

Anyway, you can read that right? Super simple. I just added oatmeal and baking soda to my Vitamix and blended with enough water to make a paste. Then I patted it gently on my skin and waited for it to dry.

Meanwhile, the babies were having FITS with all this junk on their milk. I finally let my little one nurse.

She just wanted a little suckle (because we all know mama’s nipples are the one true pacifier, soothing upset babies instantly) and then she was happy and back to her lunch. I’ve been pretty strict about letting them nurse while my chest has been on fire, as you can imagine, because any and all prodding by little fingers leaves me on the edge of insanity. The rules are no flopping around, no scratching, no fighting while tandeming….just to be calm and get off as soon as possible. I hope my supply doesn’t tank too badly while I’m dealing with it.

How long will this poison oak rash last? I hear anywhere between 1 and 3 weeks. So much for having a normal face by this weekend for my three-year-old’s birthday party.

Have you ever nursed with poison oak? Did you try prednisone? Please tell me how you made it through in one piece! 

PS. In case you think I care, or should care, about being topless in these photos, think again. Read my post on why women should have equal topless rights. If Rihanna and everyone else can be naked on cover of national magazines and in New York City, so can I.

PPS. And no, no babies were harmed in the making of this blog. Oatmeal and baking soda if consumed is OK, not that they ate any. And poison oak rash is not contagious.


At 4 days post exposure, I tried my first Aveeno oatmeal bath and Gold Bond’s medicated lotion. I liked the oatmeal bath, it was soothing. Gold Bond seems to be a little less smelly than the other OTC anti-itch stuff I’ve been trying (mostly Aveeno brand anti-itch creams and Blue Star), and it feels better good on my neck and chin. I saw some Arnica cream and thought about it for a moment but I already have too much stuff so I passed. The doc I went to today recommended I take Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) with Prednisone, which she told me was OK once a day for a few days in a low dose. I had to confirm I wasn’t pregnant before she gave it to me. No new little babies in this house in nine months! (Not that we’re trying or anything.) I am feeling pretty guilty about resorting to “major” drugs to get this under control, especially since there are a ton of CYA posts about taking any drugs while nursing. Sigh. When I had my eye surgery this summer, I took the drugs for a day or two and then quit for fear of passing stuff to my kids. And during my hbac? No drugs. After birth, only arnica. So yea, I am feeling really crappy. So far though, my little one isn’t showing any signs of the drugs but I didn’t let her nurse much. Only once many hours after I took the drugs. I hope I can just stop taking them in a day or two if everything looks much better and go back to normal healing but until then, beef up the baby on solids and cut down nursing to a couple times a day instead of her usually ALL day routine, and return to normal next week. On the plus side, she has decided to sleep through the night this week since my husband has been putting her to bed. Thankfully, I started night weaning last week because I was so exhausted and she was just falling asleep on my chest (I had to wear a shirt) without crying so she was getting more rest and her morning diaper wasn’t a hundred pounds of pee anymore. Now, she’s really getting the hang of sleeping all night and that leaves me less stressed about not having to worry about nursing her at night while I’m recovering. I hope it lasts! Who would have thought there was a positive to all this?


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8 thoughts on “Breastfeeding with Poison Oak & My Oatmeal Treatment

    • Jessica! I clicked on your comment hoping, HOPING, for some natural advice from you. No such luck! I am glad that I could make you laugh though. Also, my husband said I might be in danger of taking too many topless photos of myself. I don’t think so. Do you? Back to my rash…I HAVE A JAY LENO CHIN!! SOMEBODY HELP ME!

  1. I am so sorry you have to deal with this! It looks like it is very painful and annoying too! You are so brave and I am super impressed with your level of commitment to your children. Breastfeeding through this has got to be terribly painful! I wanted to pass along some info. My mother-in-law gets poison ivy and or poison oak rashes at least 2 times a year. (it grows rampant in her yard) She swears by rosemary oil. Putting 10 drops into a bath and soaking in it is what she does. Also she had mixed it into aloe vera gel too. I also found this info online. I hope it helps. :) I would be careful to cleanse your nipples or don’t put any oils on them because I don’t think essential oils are safe for consumption. Feel better fast!!!
    “The soothing and healing effects of Aloe Vera gel can be boosted with the addition of pure essential oils. Essential oils recommended for irritated, itching skin include Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary), Salvia officinalis (Sage), Mentha x piperita (Peppermint), Pelargonium graveolens (Geranium), Lavandula angustifolia (Lavender), Chamaemelum nobile (Roman Chamomile), Commiphora molmol (Myrrh), and Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree). Use only one oil or make a blend to be added to the gel. Use 10 drops of essential oil per ounce of Aloe Vera gel. Apply a bit to affected areas regularly and then spray with lightly with Artemisia arborescens or Owyhee (Artemisia ludoviciana) hydrosol.
    Essential oils and herbs can be used together in baths or soaks to ease the irritation of Poison Oak rash. 10 drops of any of the anti-itch essential oils can be added to bath water, or, to increase the soothing affects of essential oils, add them to bath oils. Natural Bath oils relieve itchiness. Oil-water compress can reduce inflammation, itching, irritation and other skin discomforts. Floating or dispersible bath oils are easily made at home. Floating oils will sit on top of the water, while dispersible oils incorporate into the bath. Both are effective in relieving the itch.

  2. When my husband got into poison oak/sumac/ivy we found the thing that helped the most was actually breast milk! It was day 5 of his 3rd tangle this year with the stuff (we have it in the yard of our new-to-us house) and he just wanted it gone, so I expressed some milk and he put it on part of his arm and left the rest untreated with the milk (all of it he had treated with Technu). He said it itched/burned a little at first but 12 hours later there was a marked difference in inflammation and itch.

  3. Glad I’m not alone! I have been googling like crazy trying to diagnose myself and asking around (friends, doctor friends, etc). Keep hearing that it looks like poison ivy (or oak or sumac). We took pictures with our 11 month old son and I must have knelt down on the plant. My son was playing with sticks…bc we were desperately trying to make him smile (he was being a stinker). A couple days later I have red bumps on my stomach, chest, neck, forearms & shin. It is terrible and I do not wish it on anyone…especially nursing mothers. I can totally relate to the insanity that comes with little hands rubbing all over the itchiest rash in history. Although I only had one set of hands…lol Thanks for the comic relief and I’m assuming it eventually went away forever? Maybe my son will start sleeping thru the night by the end of this all!! I’m on day 10 after exposure. My son’s first birthday party is in a week. Here’s to looking like a leper in my swimsuit!!

    • Oh no! I feel for you. Mine did go away eventually but I cheated and went to the doctor for some drugs to get my face swelling down. I hope it calms down by your son’s birthday!

  4. I am in the same boat. I have it from head to toe. I have tried everything humanly possible that is safe for my LO. I just started the oatmeal/baking soda paste that you did. Let’s pray this helps bc I am suppose to be at the beach for my husband grandparents 50th than in two weeks to The Florida Keys with my parents. I am currently having to halt breastfeeding (per LO dr) but I am able to start back up in 72 hours from Tuesday. It’s the hardest thing I have ever done. Is this anything I can use for anti-itch? Anything will help. And how long did you have yours for? Mine is goin on for a week now.

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