Poison oak rash is a form of allergic contact dermatitis that occurs when the skin comes in contact with urushiol, which is an oil present in leaves, stems, and roots of the plant. The following article provides information on the treatment of this rash.
Commonly found in the United States, poison oak belongs to the Anacardiaceae family. Contact with any part of the plant gives rise to the development of a skin rash. The inflammation of the skin occurs due to the presence of an allergenic substance called urushiol. The rash appears in the form of lines or streaks, and develops into fluid-filled bumps (blisters) or large raised areas (hives). Direct contact with the plant or indirect contact with things that might have come in contact with the allergenic oil, can cause this rash. However, it has been observed that the poison oak does not affect every person who comes in contact with its oil.
The rash might appear 8 hours to 2 days after contact with the plant’s allergic oil. However, in some people, the rash has been known to have emerged within a span of 5 hours to 15 days after contact. Common symptoms which people display include redness, itching, and development of small bumps or fluid-filled blisters on the area that came into contact with the plant. These symptoms may turn out to be severe for people who are sensitive to urushiol or have come in contact with a good amount of the same. Severe symptoms may include large blisters which may leak large amounts of fluid, and swelling of the face, mouth, neck, eyelids, and even genitals.
Note that rash cannot be passed on from one affected person to another, even if the rash or blisters are touched. If the rash seems to be spreading to different parts of the body, it may occur due to the earlier contact with the plant or, that the person may have come in contact with more urushiol.
Without treatment, the rash may stay for as long as 10 days to 3 weeks. However, this period may stretch up to 6 weeks for people who are more sensitive to the plant. One simple remedy to take care of the rash is getting the affected area washed immediately after coming in contact with the plant. Taking cool baths and using cool compresses on the affected skin helps in relieving the symptoms. The use of over-the-counter antihistamines and calamine lotions is also recommended for treating the rash. In case of moderate to severe symptoms, it would be better to consult a doctor. You never know what complications the skin rash may cause.
- Apply the gel from the stems of the jewelweed plant, immediately after contact with a poison oak. It may prevent the rash from occurring and may also relieve pain.
- Aloe vera gel is also helpful as it reduces inflammation and soothes skin irritation. It is more effective when used in combination with extracts of lavender, goldenseal, and comfrey
- Apply baking soda or vinegar directly to the skin rash. It would help reduce inflammation, itching, and pain
- Add oatmeal to warm water to make a thick paste, and apply it on the rash.
If the aforementioned remedies don’t work, and the rash persists, it would be best to seek medical help.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.