Poison oak is the type of plant which can cause allergic reactions. This allergy most commonly appear on the skin that got in the contact with poison oak. You could touch the steams, berries, leaves, flowers or roots of the plant and then develop the allergy. However, it doesn’t have to be direct contact with the plant. Sometimes, it’s enough to touch the thing that was in contact with the poison oak (clothes, gardening tools or fur) and you can develop the rash.
Poison Oak Allergy
As the allergen (the substance responsible for the allergic reaction in the plant), scientists determine the oil of the poison oak, known as urushiol. All parts of the poison oak contain this oil and because of that fact any part of the plant can cause allergic reaction.
The poison oak doesn’t affect every person that comes in touch with it, but just some sensitive to its oil. This type of allergy is known as the contact dermatitis. In most cases, it is characterized by redness of the skin, itchiness and small bumps and hives on the part of the skin that got in the contact with the plant. These streaks and lines on the skin might also be more serious in people sensitive to urushiol. Extremely sensitive to this plant can develop large blisters and hives, leaking with fluid. These patients can also experience the spreading of the rash and swelling of different parts of the body: the face, neck, eyelids, mouth or genitals.
Usually, the rash is developed 8 hours to 2 days after your contact with the poison oak, but the first symptoms may also appear sooner or later. In some cases, people developed the allergy just 5 hours after the contact with urushiol. Some other patients haven’t had any symptoms for 15 days and then they started to experience bumps and hives, specific for the poison oak allergy.
Do not worry - this rash is not contagious, even in severe cases, and you won’t get or pass poison oak allergy from/to someone.
How to Treat Poison Oak Allergy
Usually, the symptoms of contact dermatitis disappear without any treatment for 2 to 3 weeks, but it could persist up to 6 weeks in people sensitive to this plant.
There are several methods you might try at home, to relieve mild to moderate symptoms. Be aware that it is a good idea to consult your doctor, and that severe skin reaction should always be treated by your medical specialist.
First of all, wash the area of the body that got in contact with the poison oak, or use some cool baths or compresses to relieve the itching and redness. Gels made of aloe vera or the stems of the jewel weed plant are also found to be very effective in relieving the rash and pain. Aloe vera gel are said to be more efficient if combined with some other plant extracts, such as lavender, comfrey or goldenseal. You can also use some oatmeal, vinegar or baking soda while bathing. Add these substances to your bath and you should feel better immediately.
There are also some over the counter (OTC) antihistamines and Calamine lotions that can ease allergic symptoms. If your rash is serious or these home treatments don’t work consult your doctor.