Some individuals usually end up with symptoms of poison oak allergy after exposure to the plant. The plants part of the Toxicodendron family including poison oak are the usual cause of allergic contact dermatitis.
Being exposed to these plants can lead to the deposition of oil from the leaves onto the skin that can trigger an itchy rash characterized as a linear or streaked blisters or bumps. The chemical released by the plant, specifically urushiol can trigger an itchy rash via an immune reaction different from an allergic reaction. Most cases involve contact dermatitis after exposed to this oil, but will not occur in all cases. Urushiol can also be carried on the fur of animals, sports equipment, gardening tools and clothing.
Treatment of poison oak allergy
Avoiding exposure to the Toxicodendron plants is the ideal way to prevent rashes from poison oak allergy. If spending time in areas where the plant is present, it is recommended to wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, socks and shoes to prevent urushiol from touching the skin.
The application of Ivy Block on exposed skin works in a similar way as a sunscreen. It works by preventing a rash from developing if used before exposure to poison oak.
In case exposure to poison oak occurs, cleanse or wash the area thoroughly using water and soap right after contact to prevent or minimize the severity of the rash. Any clothing that comes in contact with poison oak must be removed and thoroughly washed before it is used again.
In case contact dermatitis occurs after exposed to the plant, using prescription topical steroids to minimize the rash and itchiness can also help. If the rash from poison oak allergy is severe or covers a wide body part, oral or injectable steroids might be required to manage the symptoms.
Is there a cure?
Even though rashes triggered by Toxicodendron plants can be treated, there is no way to prevent the reactions from manifesting aside from avoiding exposure with the plants.
Since the rashes from poison oak allergy are not triggered by the allergic antibodies, allergy shots do not work to prevent the reactions and there is no way to cure these forms of reactions with injections or oral medications.