I fear poison oak no longer

I live in the country and have dealt with poison oak for a couple decades. Or rather, it has dealt with me. My first reaction was so extensive and so bad that after a couple months of suffering I gave in and went to the doctor for steroids. I learned to recognize and avoid it but still have had a few poison oak rashes since then. You don’t forget those, right?

But these days I do a lot of mowing and trimming that involves removing (or getting splattered with) poison oak shrubs and vines. I also started getting dermatitis reactions lasting a few days from any kind of plant with thorns or a sappy stem. So I got in the habit of scrubbing down really well after working outside and have mostly avoided both the dermatitis and the poison oak reactions.

Then I found this video with an excellent demonstration on how to scrub down within 2-8 hours after contact with poison oak or poison ivy to avoid a reaction.

Scrubbing down like this really is effective. I recently had to clear a huge bundle of poison oak vines that was all wrapped around itself and had fallen across a five-foot-high fence. As I was cutting up the vines to clear them off the fence, I was throwing them off to the side and couldn’t avoid being in contact with them. I came home and scrubbed down with soap and a kitchen vegetable brush and a washcloth, followed by a Tecnu scrub, followed by another wash with jewelweed soap. I had no reaction at all.

Sure wish I’d known about this sooner! Better than recognizing and avoiding poison oak is just getting in the habit of scrubbing down well after you’ve been outside in the wild green stuff.

Poison oak leaves. Image by Joshua Nichols from Pixabay.