Noticeable poison oak symptoms are skin reddening, itching, and rashes at the initial stages, which are followed by blister and pustule formation. Practicing immediate self-care tips after exposure will help prevent the onset related skin problems.
While mentioning poison oak, the first thing that every one of us visualize is intense itching and skin rashes, resulting after contacting with skin. It grows as a vine near large trees or trailing above the ground. When grown in ideal growing conditions, it develops shrubbery growth habit. It has two varieties – Toxicodendron pubescens and T. diversilobum, both of which cause mild to severe rash depending upon the extent of exposure. In this article, we will discuss regarding poison oak symptoms and treatment, along with effective home remedies to get rid of rashes.
Whether you brush against a poison oak accidentally while cleaning your backyard or trekking in the wild, this plant will cause discomfort skin symptoms. Areas having thinner skin are more susceptible to development of rashes than thicker portions, like palm and feet sole. Speaking about the causes, the main reason behind this is a chemical called urushiol. It is a colorless to yellowish organic oil present in the sap of leaves and stem. Fresh urushiol is hard to spot due to its colorless nature, but when exposed to air this organic oil becomes brownish black and visible.
As soon as this sap containing urushiol touches the skin, this chemical penetrates deep in the skin and reacts with the tissues. People having a very sensitive skin and those who are very allergic to urushiol, will develop rashes within 24 – 48 hours of exposure. The reddish-colored skin rashes are usually manifested in a linear or streak pattern, which is nothing but the skin portion brushed by the leaf or stem. Eruption of rashes is followed by severe itching and swelling at the affected areas. After a few days, the fluid filled blisters are formed, which later open and crust over.
Worst itching is experienced within the first week of exposure to the plant. The more you scratch your skin, the higher will be the chances of infection and skin scarring. And the outcomes are longer period for healing and skin scars at the affected portions. In general, the episode of the rash lasts for 10 days. It may extend to about 3 weeks for complete healing. Nevertheless, there are therapeutic approaches and home remedies that are effective to combat the signs, as well as reduce the healing period.
The best way to treat this condition is to avoid contacting this plant at the first instant. If you touch it unknowingly, immediate steps (preferably within 5 – 10 minutes) should be taken to minimize risk of developing dermatitis. According to the recommendations of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), clean the exposed skin portions by gently wiping with alcohol. Then, rinse the area under cold running water, which will neutralize urushiol if you act very fast. Then, take bath with soap and water.
Another important tip is to use alcohol for wiping tools, shoes and clothes, etc. (whichever possible) that may contain urushiol. Make sure you do so by wearing protective plastic gloves. Otherwise, you may again contact urushiol, which will trigger an allergic response. In case you are late in taking up these steps, you may develop rashes in the exposed body parts. In order to minimize itching, you can follow remedies, such as applying wet compresses, taking oatmeal bath, adding Epsom salt (or baking soda) in bath water, and keeping rashes open.
For severe rashes spreading over large bodily areas, you should seek advice from a qualified dermatologist. The doctor may prescribe oral antihistamines and topical ointments that are formulated with zinc acetate, calamine, and alcohol. Strictly follow the medication recommendation, and it will help soothe uncomfortable signs and promote quick healing.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.