How to Make a Chamomile Poultice

Chamomile Poultice

The chamomile flower is often used to treat skin irritations and promote healing of wounds and bruises. Chamomile contains antibacterial and anti-inflammatory compounds that speed healing and promote the regeneration of tissues. While chamomile can be added to baths, it is often applied directly to cuts and abrasions via a poultice or compress.

What is a Poultice?

Poultices are used to soothe tired muscles, relieve pain or to treat skin conditions. They are similar to compresses, but are not the same thing.

  • Poultice: A poultice is made from ground herbs made into a paste and applied to the affected area. A poultice can be either hot or cold and may contain more than one herb, carrier oils or other agents. It may be covered with cloth or plastic to keep it moist. A thin layer of gauze is placed between the affected skin and the paste of herbs.
  • Compress: A compress in typically applied hot and is made from soaking cloth or bandage material in steeped herbs. They can be made with either tea or with a tincture. The water is wrung from the fabric and it is applied directly to the skin. Like a poultice it may be covered with plastic or heavier fabric to keep in moisture and heat.

How to Make a Chamomile Poultice

A chamomile poultice can be made from dried or fresh chamomile or the ground chamomile from tea bags.

  1. Gather fresh or dried chamomile blooms. If you don’t have them on hand, you can open your chamomile tea bags and use the ground chamomile for the poultice.
  2. Grind the chamomile in a bowl with a spoon or use a mortar and pestle. Alternately you can rub the dried chamomile between your hands to break it up.
  3. Add enough water to form a smooth paste. If you are using a cold poultice, use cold water. Otherwise add hot water to the mixture to make a hot poultice. The chamomile should be fully moistened, but the mixture should not be runny.

How to Apply the Chamomile Poultice

  1. Cover the affected area with a layer of gauze. You may need more than one layer. Use enough gauze to prevent the pieces of your poultice from working it’s way through the holes.
  2. Spread the poultice over the affected area, extending it several inches beyond the treatment area. You will need a layer approximately ¼ to ½ inch thick.
  3. Press the poultice down lightly to make sure it is in contact with the gauze and to remove air pockets.
  4. Wrap the area with a piece of food grade plastic wrap. This will hold in moisture and prevent the poultice (and skin) from drying out during treatment. Dry skin cannot absorb the oils from the chamomile that are responsible for healing.
  5. Cover the plastic with a clean, soft towel. If you are applying the poultice to an arm or leg, wrap the towel around the limb, otherwise lay the towel over the affected area and tuck the edges under you body to hold it snug.
  6. Keep the area stationary so the poultice remains in contact with the skin. Allow the poultice to work its magic for at least 30 minutes. You can leave it on for up to an hour.
  7. Unwrap the towel and remove the plastic. Gently remove the poultice by lifting the gauze from your skin. Discard the chamomile poultice in the trash or shake the herbs into the compost bin and toss the gauze in the trash.
  8. Allow the area to air dry. This allows the remaining oils from the chamomile to absorb into the skin.  Bandage or dress the area as usual.

Making your own chamomile poultice from dried or fresh chamomile isn’t difficult. As an added bonus, the aroma that fills the air will help you relax and reduce stress, too. If you experience skin irritation or the wound does not seem to be healing, seek the advice of your medical professional.