General Question

occ's avatar

how can I prevent myself from getting poison oak?

Asked by occ (4083points) March 10th, 2008

arghh!! I have poison oak…strangely, I even have it on my leg, although I was wearing pants while hiking. How did the poison oak oils get through my pants?? And what can I do in the future to prevent it? Also, at what point is it no longer spreadable? the bumps first showed up on tuesday, so almost a week ago…is it possible that I can keep spreading it if I scratch? I am trying not to scratch but have been scratching in my sleep and waking up from it…and I“m worried I may accidentally spread it to other parts of my body through scratching. I considered sleeping with gloves on but I just can’t fall asleep with gloves on.

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8 Answers

jrpowell's avatar

I went hiking when I was six or seven. I got it and it was soon all over my body. My genitals were covered and eventually my eyes swelled shut. My mom made me sleep with socks on my hands.

Get to the doctor. They have pills that will make it go away in three days.

shockvalue's avatar

next time, don’t walk through poison oak. i guarantee you wont get it

scamp's avatar

The first two answers pretty much said it all. You can try calamine (sp?) lotion until you get to the doctor.

pattyb's avatar

A doctor will give you pills for the discomfort. The pills must be an opiate or addictive, I remember getting poison ivy head to toe, and the doctor refuse to write another prescription for more pills. They did work good as I recall.

syz's avatar

The oils from poison oak and ivy can remain irritating for up to a year. You can be affected by dead plants, pet hair, and clothing that has been in contact with the oils and insufficiently sterilized. My guess would be that the cloth from your pants came into contact with your skin at some time after the direct exposure.

There are several commercial products available to be used pre-exposure (IvyBlock, Oak-N-Ivy, Rhuli gel). Of course, they only work if you remember to apply them before hiking and repeat as necessary due to sweating.

Most of those products are to meant to be used in conjunction with a post-exposure wash. These washes are specially designed to break down the molecules of the oils (they have particularly effective “hooks” that make them very persistent).

If all of that fails, there are post exposure products that help with the itching. In cases of a severe reaction, your doctor may put you on a short course of steroids to reduce the inflammation (and if you’ve scratched, an antibiotic to prevent infection). Steroids can have their own serious side effects and are usually used as a last resort.

Make sure that you wash all clothing in hot water and equipment in a 10% bleach solution so you don’t get re-infected next time you pull your camping equipment out.

emilyrose's avatar

there is this stuff you can get called technu and you can wash all your clothes and sheets in it, its made just for poison oak. my friend also took a homeopathic for oak every time she went hiking cuz she is deathly allergic. not sure the name but if you ask at a health food store they can help you.

occ's avatar

Thanks, all. for the record, I didn’t walk into poison oak on purpose! I stayed on the trail, and kept an eye out for poison oak too…I even wore long pants to protect myself!

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