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Tried and True Remedies for Poison Oak

March 31, 2014 by · 2 Comments 


poison_2Best Ways of Surviving Poison Oak—most recently tried and found to be true.

With summer right around the corner and more outdoor time being scheduled—here is a little warning for those who want to avoid a red, swollen, itchy, uncomfortable, pus-filled, raised and blistery rash that lasts about a week (and oftentimes longer).  Pay close attention since these plants (poison sumac, ivy, and oak) grow everywhere in the United States (with the exception of Hawaii, Alaska, and some desert areas of the southwestern United States) and look different depending on the region.

First off, Avoidance Is Key!

Look out for these three-pronged leaves that tend to grow near creeks, streams and riverbeds.  They sometimes have little white flowers and often grow in shaded areas of trails.  Also, the leaves tend to change color in the fall, from yellow to red.   If you know you will be in an area where it grows, wear protective clothing that covers skin where you could come in contact with plant.

First Response to the Rash–

Once it’s been confirmed you have accidentally come into contact with the dreaded plant, make sure to wash EVERYTHING that has come in contact with the oil that causes the itchy reaction on human skin, ASAP.   As hard as it is, try not to scratch the itchy areas as this can cause the rash to spread. Having just recently dealt with an annoying case of Poison Oak (and still in the final stages of recovery), it is imperative that you not only wash your skin with soap and water, but also ALL of the clothing, bedding, boots, hiking gear, and anything else you might have come into contact with before realizing you had been exposed to the plant’s relentlessness. One thing you DON’T want to have happen is to treat the poison oak for days and think you are mostly in the clear, just to touch something you forgot to wash the urushiol oils off of and it starts all over again with a NEW rash on another part of your body.   The urushiol oil remains toxic for up to a year—so make sure you wash everything ASAP!


I speak from experience—these are the remedies that have most recently helped me…

Wash the areas covered in rash with soap (I use Dr. Bronners) and warm water when bathing, then towel dry by patting areas of infection.  Immediately apply a liberal amount of Calamine Lotion (which has a topical analgesic as one of the ingredients and is sold over the counter) on the rash, followed by sprinkling some baking soda over it (to absorb the pus that inevitably oozes out of the wound during healing process).  Then wait until the rash/creams are mostly dry before adorning comfortable, loose clothing that will hopefully not exacerbate the itchiness.  Take Benadryl or Claritin to help with the itch and discomfort.  Just beware, many antihistamines will cause drowsiness– if you will be driving, operating heavy machinery or just need to be bright-eyed, bushy tailed for work.  Also, cool compresses help relieve the hot, achy, swollen areas.

Good Luck and Stay Rash-Free!PoisonOakLeaves


2 Responses to “Tried and True Remedies for Poison Oak”
  1. Isabelle Lussier says:

    Thanks for sharing. My youngest son has been catching it for the past three years…. One year he got infected three times (maybe four). It is worse each time he develops the rash. Not fun for a child when you are 5, 6, or 7 years old. Once he has so many on his fingers that he couldn't bend them.

    Last year, it happened again while on a family reunion. Apparently, you can get a stronger form of Calamine Lotion from the pharmacist without having a prescription. We got it that time around and it was definitively much stronger than the regular stuff you get from over the counter.

    Though it saddens me that he will have this reaction for many years to come, I am getting more knowledge every time.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Our youngest son (now an adult) is so allergic to poison oak that it seemed that the bushes were attacking him. We finally figured out that he was brushing against plants/bushes on the edges of trails just like animals did. The poison oak oil would get on the animals fur and rub on to the leaves of the bushes which would then rub on to our son.

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