So let me set the scene for you. It’s a beautiful day here in Southern Oregon so I jumped at the chance to start weeding my garden. I let my weed-eater do its thing in between the beds but when it came time to clear around my blueberries I got down and personal. Then it happened. I pulled out a baby poison oak bush out by the root. With my bare hand. And I’m highly allergic. But the blogger in me looked to the bright side and thought this would be a perfect time to share my poison oak treatment to stop the itch and start drying out your skin almost immediately!
How ’bout a little education first? Because there is a whole lot of misconception going on.
The rash is contagious! Watch out!! The rash is not contagious because it is your skins allergic reaction. It’s the oil (or urushiol for the experts) that is the culprit. You ‘get’ a poison oak rash from the toxic oil on the entire plant. That means the leaves, stems, berries and even the roots. Oh, and your dog if he rolled all around in it recently. I speak from experience.
You can spread poison oak/ivy/sumac by scratching it or opening up the blisters! Nope. At least not once the rash starts in. When that shows up, and becomes crazy itchy, you can infect the sores with any dirt and germs you might have on your fingers when scratching. A rash can show up anywhere from 12-72 hours after you’ve come in contact.
What you can do is spread the oil around after you have been exposed to the plant. The oil can hang around on your skin and bind to it (or soak in) within 5 minutes or even up to 2 hours later. For instance the palms of your hands have thick skin and the oils can not penetrate there but can easily transfer the oil from your hands to your face, with very delicate skin. Delicate skin that soaks that oil up like the Mojave Desert.
I killed the plant! No more oil! Whoo hoo! Yeah right. I wish but no such luck. If you live in a wet climate that stuff can stick around for 5 years. Dry climate people, try 9. Last summer I had a wildfire within 30 yards of my home. It took down huge Oregon trees all the way to their roots. The poison oak however, is thriving. To even kill this plant is dang near impossible. Special sprays are made to kill the plant, but it takes numerous sprays over the course of about 3 years. The plant looks dead but the next year little babies spring up from it’s huge root structure. Spray again. Spray again. Spray again. Cross your fingers and pray.
I’m allergic, boo. I’m not, neener nanner! You never can tell with this devil weed. Some people who have never had it, like SuperHubbie, can all of a sudden become doomed out of nowhere. Others who have been highly allergic in the past can seem to gain a resistance. Like I said, it’s a devil weed.
There are a few ways to help prevent your skin from getting to the point of becoming a burning fire of itch and misery.
- Wash any skin that has come in contact as soon as you can with cool water and soap.
- Wear long sleeve shirts and long pants, gloves and even hats if you think you might be exposed.
- Remove any clothes, stepping out of them inside out (to not touch any oil) and wash ASAP. Be careful of your shoes too.
- Buy goats. They eat this stuff like it’s candy and makes it easier for you to kill the roots. I recommend Fainting Goats just because they’re hilarious.
- Learn what it looks like during all seasons of the year. Even in the winter. We have a patch I call ‘Stick Town’ in the winter. Stay away from Stick Town.
We dispelled myths, we educated ourselves, now let’s talk treatment.
I have seriously tried everything. Every over-the-counter miracle cream. Numerous hippy ointments and home remedies. I’ve even doused myself with rubbing alcohol until I went screaming into the shower from the torturous pain. I got a rash so bad I had to be administered 2 steriod shots within one week from my doctor. He had never given more then 1 shot before me, and my quarter-sized weeping blisters, walked through his door. So after 7 years of looking for a miracle cure I now keep just one thing in my medicine cabinet.
Wait for it…..
Bam. Can you believe it? Stri-Dex Medicated Pads Good ‘ol zit medicine. Seems crazy but when you think about it this stuff is made to remove oil so use it after you even think you have been exposed. When I, or the kiddo’s, get one little red itchy dot I start dousing myself with this stuff. Now I’m not saying this will cure your rash immediately. But compared to the $26 a tube medication, this will dry your skin and the rash for a heck of a lot less money.
Be wary of anything that says it will ‘remove the toxins from your body.’ The rash is your body’s allergic reaction. Once the oil soaks in you are essentially… screwed. 70% of people will get a rash within 72 hours. All you can do now is try to control and dry out the rash to help calm your skin. You cannot remove the toxic oil from your body. Think of it like this. You can put olive oil on dry skin to moisturize it. Once the olive oil has soaked in, you cannot pull it back out. Stay away from voodoo hippie meds. They can help you feel better, but nothing will remove the toxic oil after the first 2 hours and it binds.
That being said something I’m going to try this year is a trick I learned from a Search & Rescue Team. They can find themselves in fields of it in a moments notice. They drink a shot of liquid pectin once a week. Some even scoop about 1 tablespoon of dry pectin in orange juice everyday! Lots of home remedies like oatmeal baths, benadryl and topical creams can help ease the discomfort as well. But you need to start drying out the rash, nothing that I have found works better than Stridex!
Do you get a rash from these devil weeds? Do you have any tricks and tips to share?