Poison Oak

Poison OakThis is poison oak. It’s much easier to identify when it has its leaves, but the plant oils from the bare branches can also inflict an itchy misery on its victims.

The best treatment is prevention: know what it looks like and teach the kids and avoid it.

Know where you are going. Open spaces have poison oak, forested areas have poison oak. If you have active, unstoppable explorers, plan ahead and before heading out apply one of the clay-based products (one brand is Ivy Block) that make a barrier between skin and the irritating oils.

If balls or toys go into the brush, leave them or retrieve them with something disposable like a paper towel or anything that can easily be washed or cleaned. Dogs, clothing and sports equipment can be coated by the colorless oil and can spread poison oak to other areas and people.

If you know the kids might have been exposed to poison oak, clean up afterwards with a product that gets the oil off the skin (one is Technu). The average person has 1 to 4 hours to get the oil off the skin, but don’t wait! While the poison oak rash develops over 1-2 days for people who have had it before, sensitive people can develop a severe rash within hours. Sometimes the rash can even take 10-14 days to develop, especially if this is the first time the person is exposed.

If the poison oak rash develops, keep your child comfortable with cool compresses, oatmeal baths, antihistamines like diphenhydramine and hydrocortisone cream. Avoid scratching because this can lead to a separate skin infection. The poison oak rash can take 2-3 weeks to clear. Call or see your pediatrician for questions or concerns.

About Lisa M. Asta, MD

Lisa M. Asta, M.D. is board-certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, for which she is also a Media Representative (she has been interviewed for “Kids Health” on Health Radio, and quoted in Parenting Magazine, USA Today, and the New York Times, among other publications). She is a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California at San Francisco and past pediatric chair at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek. She graduated from Temple University School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Asta is also a writer whose fiction has appeared in Inkwell, Philadelphia Stories, Schuylkill, and Zeniada. Her essays have appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Hippocrates, the San Jose Mercury News, and The New Physician Magazine. She is an occasional contributor to KQED public radio’s Perspectives series, and has written articles for Bay Area Parent, Valley Parent, Parents’ Press, and Parents Express, as well as online at WebMD.com, Rx.com, and MyLifePath.com. She wrote a chapter in The Field Guide to the Normal Newborn, ed. Gary Emmet, M.D. BabyCenter.com currently has two how-to videos for parents in production which feature Dr. Asta. For more on Dr. Asta’s writing, visit www.LMAsta.com
This entry was posted in 101, Children, Health Care, Medicine, Pediatric Bits, Phenology, Play and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Poison Oak

  1. Pingback: Forget me not: Poison Oak | Casa Verde Pediatrics, Inc. Blog

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