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April 23, 2018

Poison Oak Treatment – What Works And What Does Not

While this blog is about poison ivy, it is also about education. As such, here is an article about poison oak, which is similar, but different than poison ivy. When you have poison oak, then you may be tempted to use any old poison oak treatment, regardless if it works or not. If you are interested in learning more about treatments that work, and which ones you should probably avoid, then continue to read the rest of this article.

poison oak

Poison Oak Treatment Options That Work

Below are a few poison oak treatment options that work quite well.

Take Care Of Your Skin
There are quite a few very effective ways to treat poison oak, but one of the best poison oak treatment options is to simply take care of your skin right away. This means that you should wash all of your clothes, and then you will want to use some rubbing alcohol on your rash. Once you have done this you will want to keep the area clean, and not scratch the rash. Do this on a daily basis and soon enough your rash will disappear.

An Oatmeal Bath
One of the most unique ways to treat poison oak is by putting oatmeal in a processor or blender, and then adding it to your bath. Many people have found that taking an oatmeal bath relieves them from many of the symptoms caused by poison oak, but keep in mind that you will likely need to take at least two baths daily to feel and see the full benefits of this treatment method. Also, a good tip to keep in mind is to avoid taking a hot bath, as the hot water could irritate the rash and make the itchiness and redness far worse than what it was, so take a cool bath to get the most out of your oatmeal bath.

poison oak

Prescription Corticosteroid Pills
If you have a severe rash, then you should seek poison oak treatment from a doctor, as they will likely prescribe Corticosteroid pills. These pills are highly effective and they are designed to work very quickly. These pills work quick to provide you with relief from poison oak symptoms, such as itchiness and redness.

Poison Oak Treatments That Do Not Work Very Well

There are a few poison oak treatment options that are not very effective, and some of those options include:

Topical Lotions
Some over the counter topical lotions work very well, but many do not and that is because before you use such a lotion, you usually have to wait a few hours after the itching has started. There are so many different over the counter lotions, which makes finding a good one that much harder to do.

Allergy Medicines
There are many people who recommend taking allergy medicines as a form of poison oak treatment, but most of the time allergy medicines will not do much for you. If allergy medicines do work, then they usually only provide minor relief and it is not long-term relief. However, everyone is different and you may respond to allergy medicines different than others, but don’t expect them to do a lot for you, especially if you have a moderate to severe poison oak rash.

Acorn Broth
Some people believe that acorn broth that is applied to your rash is a great way to treat poison oak and the symptoms that come along with it. However, this has not been studied, nor has it been proven, and there are not a lot of people who recommend using acorn broth as the first treatment option that should be used on someone who has poison oak. Acorn broth is made by crushing up a few acorns and then boil them in some water, and then using the broth on the rash. This method is not only not effective, but it takes a little while to make the broth.

Applying Dairy Products
One home remedy that is often recommended is applying dairy products, such as yogurt or milk to the rash. All this does is cool down the rash and offer short-term relief from itchiness, but other than that it does not work very well at all, so it is best to steer clear from it.

If you want to treat your poison oak, then you should try one of the effective poison oak treatment options mentioned earlier, and avoid the ones that do not work.

Ask a Doctor:Will I gradually build up a resistance to poison ivy/oak (with enough exposure)?

Q: I am allergic to poison ivy/oak. I have a lot of it on my lot and, although I try to kill it, it still comes back. My question is this: If I intentionally contract it every few months, will I gradually build up a resistance to it?

A. An estimated 25 to 40 million Americans require medical treatment after exposure to poison ivy/oak/sumac, and there is no cure. Unlike allergen immunotherapy (allergy shots or drops), which cures allergies using gradual, increasing concentrations of the allergen (pollen, mold, animals and pests), poison ivy dermatitis results from a distinct immune response that doesn’t respond to allergy shots or drops. Poison ivy, oak or sumac can cause a dermatitis when urushiol, the allergenic compound found in the plants, penetrates the skin and causes a reaction several hours to days following exposure. When you remove the poison ivy, dig down into the soil at least 8 inches and remove all of the roots. Be sure to go to the end of the root. Should the poison ivy regrow, look for it in nearby trees. It will keep reseeding itself as long as you don’t get the parent vine.

— Dr. Susan Raschal, Covenant Allergy, and Asthma Care; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society

Readers: To submit a question for medical doctors, email it to Clint Cooper at ccoopertimesfreepress.com. See this space each week for answers.

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Ask a Doctor:Will I gradually build up a resistance to poison ivy/oak (with enough exposure)?

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