To your surprise, only one-fifth of us are not allergic to the poison oak, surveyed by the University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources. However, not all of us know how to identify poison oak rash and how to treat this rash safely and adequately.
The common symptoms of poison oak rash are red itchy rash spots, along with blisters or bumps. These, nevertheless, are easily confusing and mistaken for other allergies like poison ivy or poison sumac.
What is Poison Oak Rash?
As you can refer to the name, a poison oak rash is caused by contact with poison oak leaves.
This plant is biologically called Toxicodendron diversilobum, which is originally native to western North America before it is brought to Columbia and Baja, California.
In bright and warm environments, poison oaks often form a dense and leafy shrub. Meanwhile, in shady ears, they grow as a climbing vine by supporting themselves on other vegetation.
Leaves of poison oaks often go in a group of three, in which the middle leaf is larger than the others. Their surface is dull or glossy, and sometimes hairy on the lower surface. This is quite similar to leaves of ordinary oaks.
In spring, leaves are green or light red, and white-green flowers come out from the leaves’ stem. In summer, they turn into glossy green, then into shades of red or orange. The round whitish-green fruits are formed in the late summer.
Why Poison Oak Causes Allergy?
Poison oak is hazardous and adaptive to various living environments, for example, in disturbed vegetation areas, along roadsides, on abandoned lands, or in wood. Thus, we might contact the leaves accidentally in our daily life.
The bad news it causes allergic contact dermatitis.
To be specific, the urushiol in leaves is the source of allergy. Rather than contact directly with the leaves, you might also expose to this oily substance on pets, clothes, and other materials. At that time, urushiol will create a chemical bond to your skin and lead to a severe allergic reaction like red rashes, itch, blisters, and bumps.
How to Identify Poison Oak Rash?
Unfortunately, we often mistake these allergic symptoms with common itch and underestimate them. However, scratching or improper treatments might allow bacteria and specks of dirt to enter your skin and causes illness.
Treat as soon as you determine the early symptoms.
But, how to identify poison oak rash?
Take the timeline of rash appearance into account.
When you first contact poison oak leaves or sources of urushiol, there will be nothing happened.
Only after 8 to 24 hours can symptoms show up. You might notice small red bumps in some parts of your body, and they start itching.
Within one day to seven days, the itchy feeling and skin irritation increase. Water blisters may be formed and even exude serum. Your rash goes worse and extremely uncomfortable.
From seven to fourteen days, the allergic process starts reversing and disappear. Thank goodness!
How to Treat Poison Oak Rash The Right Way?
The rash by poison oak often lasts no more than two weeks, meaning you can do nothing as long as you stand the irritation and do not scratch your skin too much.
Otherwise, you can apply some treatments to relieve the discomfort and fasten the curing process.
#1. Clean the potential sources of poison oak rash
If you recently touch a suspicious plant, wash your hands thoroughly not to transfer the poison to other body parts, especially face.
In case you do not know what causes the rash, it might be from your pets or clothes. Then, wash them off to remove potential urushiol.
# Cleanse the contact areas with a mild solvent
Isopropyl rubbing alcohol or soap is recommended to dilute the oil. Do not use warm water unless you want to promote the oil penetration and cause the rash to spread.
Apply the alcohol on the exposed areas for five to eight minutes before rinsing it off with a lot of cold water.
#3. See a doctor if necessary
If you fail to identify a poison oak rash and treat it at the early stage, you had better speak to your doctor to get a prescription.
Do not take random medicines. This does more harm than good.
#1. Scratch the rash
We all know how itchy the rash is, however, do not scratch.
You might hurt your skin and create favorable conditions for bacteria to introduce your body and make the allergy even worse.
If you feel extremely frustrated, apply hot water over the rash. It helps relieve the itching for a while. You can also try hydrocortisone cream – but only when you have a prescription from the doctor.
#2. Burn poison oak
Now you know how to identify poison oak rash and the plant itself, you might want to rebel it from the very first time to prevent any allergy.
Nevertheless, do not burn!
Oily urushiol might disperse via the smoke and even more easily introduce into your body, especially the respiratory system.
You had better remove the plant with rubber gloves on. Otherwise, have professionals get rid of poison oak for you.
Prevention Is Better Than Cure
Read how to identify poison oak rash carefully for proper treatment next time.
Even more, remember the appearance of poison oak to avoid touching it. Also, clean your clothes, items, and furniture, and your pets frequently.