What is poison oak?
Poison oak is found in the western regions of the United States and Canada. Much like its unpleasant cousins — poison sumac and poison ivy — it can cause you to have an allergic reaction when you’re exposed to it. Poison oak and causes an itchy rash when it comes into contact with skin.
The rash caused by poison oak is not contagious but it is extremely uncomfortable. It usually disappears in one to two weeks, with the severity of symptoms subsiding after the first few days.
Poison oak is among the most common causes of allergic rash in America. Over half the population is sensitive to its leaves. Poison oak secretes a substance called urushiol, which causes a rash or dermatitis in most people.
You can become affected by poison oak by touching the oak-like leaves of the plant, petting an animal that has walked through it, or touching a surface that has been in contact with the oil. Breathing in smoke or airborne particles from poison oak can cause respiratory distress.
A rash from poison oak typically develops between 12 and 72 hours after coming into contact with the plant. Hikers, gardeners, and those who work or spend time outdoors are most at risk for developing a reaction to poison oak. The symptoms of this distinct reaction include:
Discomfort typically lasts for up to two weeks, but there are multiple natural remedies you can use to soothe the unpleasant symptoms of poison oak.
Natural remedies for poison oak
Honey has long been known for its soothing and calming properties, making it one of the best natural poison oak remedies you can try. Conveniently, honey can be kept indefinitely in a sealed container without the risk of spoiling.
Because of its anti-inflammatory qualities, honey can be effective in soothing poison oak rashes and healing your skin more efficiently.
Research suggests that jewelweed may be an effective natural home remedy for poison oak and ivy dermatitis when applied topically.
For hundreds of years, oats have been enjoyed in baths for their soothing and anti-inflammatory properties.
Colloidal oatmeal, specifically, becomes gooey when mixed with water. This is effective for coating the skin as it provides soothing and moisturizing relief. Oatmeal is an effective home remedy for finding relief from the burning and itching of a poison oak rash.
Witch hazel’s astringent properties can be attributed to its richness of tannins, which can be found in its bark and leaves. Witch hazel possesses significant anti-inflammatory properties that have been shown to relieve irritation of the skin.
Witch hazel can be used as a soothing, natural home remedy to manage the symptoms of poison oak.
Risks and outlook
Typically, poison oak home remedies are sufficient for managing related symptoms and resolving the rash.
If your rash is severe, however, you should see a health-care professional. Your doctor may recommend a high-potency steroid cream or an oral corticosteroid or suggest over-the-counter medications to manage pain. If your rash becomes infected, antibiotics may be prescribed. Avoid touching or scratching your rash to prevent infection.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
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Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects: “Herbal Treatment for Dermatologic Disorders.”
Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Allergens: Poison Ivy / Poison Oak / Poison Sumac.”
Journal of Drugs in Dermatology:: “Colloidal oatmeal: history, chemistry and clinical properties.”
Journal of Ethnopharmacology: “The effectiveness of jewelweed, Impatiens capensis, the related cultivar I. balsamina and the component, lawsone in preventing post poison ivy exposure contact dermatitis.”
Journal of Inflammation: “Antioxidant and potential anti-inflammatory activity of extracts and formulations of white tea, rose, and witch hazel on primary human dermal fibroblast cells.”
Lancet: “Honey for superficial wounds and ulcers.”
National Capital Poison Center: “Poison Ivy, Poison Oak and Poison Sumac.”
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