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Poison Oak

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Advice about Health > Poison Oak


May 2003

My son has a horrindous case of poison oak. What are some favorite effective remedies. We've tried all of the sta dards and it keeps spreading. Symmetry


Technu, Technu, Technu! My son and I are extremely allergic to poison oak, and Technu products are miraculous. There is a wash to use if you know that you have encountered poison oak and it hasn't yet appeared and even if it's just starting, which binds with the poison oak oil and washes it away. There is also an anti-itch gel for when the rash has already progressed. If his rash is extremely severe, which it might be by the time you see this digest, an antihistamine may be the only way to go. I would definitely go to Longs (that's where I get it; other places probably carry it also) and stock up for future episodes. Joan
For temporary (2-3 hours) relief from itching, run *hot* water over the affected areas. obviously you don't want to scald, but the hotter the better. heat brings out the histamines (the itch causing agents) and hot water will deplete the body's supply for a few hours; plus it feels really nice on the affected skin. I get the meanest cases when I get it, and this is the one sure relief I've found. itchy
I've never known anyone who had worse poison oak than I have and I tried every imaginable lotion, medication, etc. In the end, the thing that works for me is: ice. Bags of crushed ice. Once I made a bed of ice and lay down on it and someone then covered me with ice. When I am walking around, I have bags of ice with me, and put it on wherever it starts to itch. This is the only thing that keeps me from feeling the itching, and not scratching is the only thing that keeps it from spreading. It itches when it gets hot and the ice keeps it from getting hot enough. Also, it just numbs the sensations. This gives the whole thing time to heal. It works for me after years of trial and error--I hope it can be of some help to you. Lissa
It might be too late for your kid, but Tecnu is a very effective cleanser for the oils that cause poison oak irritation. You can put it on your skin before contact, and it will prevent poison oak; you can clean poison oak off after contact; you can wash your shoes and gear in it; you can put it on the rash and it will help stop the itching. It is amazing stuff. You can find it at Safeway sold under the ''oak-n-ivy'' label. Chaparral Ecologist
If it's really bad and keeps spreading, I would suggest going to the docter and getting a shot of cortizone or a prescription for cortizone pills. If you don't like that idea, try benedryl, taken internally. Most topical creams don't work very well. The best is clamine lotion. You want the blisters to dry out and heal and not get infected. I found a medicated clalimine lotion to be most soothing. You should also try Donboro, an astrigent solution found in any drug store, works well to relieve skin irritation and inflamation from poison oak. Witch Hazel is a milder astringent you can try too. Laurey
I get terrible poison oak.

All of the suggestions so far are great and I've used them, especially the blasting under hot-as-you-can-stand water. Provides hours of relief and feelsgreat whenyou are doing it.

Another treatment I just discovered is ''Zanfel'', an OTC topical cream. Provides the best relief from itching. You can learn more at www.zanfel.com. Down side is it is very expensive, $38/tube. However, I found it worth it, as I was in such misery before. dana


I have always been very sensitive to poison oak and as a child had to get cortisone shots to make it heal at all. As an adult, I have discovered two wonderful treatments: Hyland's homeopathic Poison Oak/Ivy pills, which make the affected areas heal quickly and reduce the itching, and clay on the rash area, which both dries out the blisters and soothes the itching. I get both the pills and and dry bulk red clay at Whole Foods in Berkeley. If I begin taking the pills as soon as the rash starts to develop, I can sometimes prevent it from fully developing at all. It's fabulous! Some people take Rustox (sp?) pills, which is the main ingredient in the Hyland's remedy, and which you can also get at Whole Foods in their homeopathic area. Laura
Recently I have used Aloe (as sold in stores in bottles) to put on both itchy bites and itchy poison oak. It cools and takes the itchiness away to the point there is no scratching, however it does sting for a while. I've only used it for small poison oak patches, however, so I don't know how it would work for bad reactions over a large area. Susan
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this page was last updated: Jun 29, 2003


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