Plant exposure may also be one common source of skin rashes. Aside
from the poison ivy, the poison oak emits urushiol, an oily irritant
of the plant. Skin conditions may arise upon contact of skin with
the poison oak’s leaves, branches, stems, and roots.
The poisonous chemical of the oak traps the skin’s proteins
within 20 minutes after direct contact with the plant. The urushiol
produces rashes 75% out of people who are exposed to poisonous oak.
The rash may appear in an hour after contact or may occur three
to five days later.
The term poison oak is often associated with shrub-like types of
poison ivy and to at least other related plants that are typically
deemed separate class of the cashew plants, Anacardiaceae.
The poison oak, originally from southeastern United States, has
its leaves partitioned into three parts; the leaflets are thickly
haired and usually have three to seven different lobes. It is generally
shrubby and can climb up to 2.4 m (8 ft) high. All species of poison
oak hold dangerous oils that are said to be matching or closely
associated to that originating from poison ivy.
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Poison Oak Rash: Signs and Symptoms
Manifestation of the rash starts of with itching and swelling of
the skin, coupled with the redness and inflammation of tiny pimples.
Blisters then develop and grow in a chain-like response. When the
blisters break, a clear fluid oozes out of the skin. The exposed
fluid then solidifies into a yellowish layer. If no treatment is
made on the rash, it will last from three to five weeks because
of the histamine reaction.
After the initial signs of the rash, systemic reactions may become
visible as reappearance of rashes which will continue for another
number of weeks. Permanent scarring may result as a consequence
in severe cases.
The recurrence of rashes can happen from handling, cutting, or
pulling some parts of the plants particularly the stem. The stem
holds enough oil to cause infection more than thousands of people.
When the contact is centered at a particular spot, the urushiol
is likely to be absorbed rapidly by the body. Revealing an open
wound, even an insect bite, to the plant permits the poisonous oil
to enter directly the blood system of the body.
Poison Oak Rash: Treatment
To date, there have been little developments on the cure for the
poison oak rash once it starts, only aid to alleviate the symptoms.
Again, avoidance from the rash, particularly direct contact with
the plant, is the best remedy possible.
Once the rash begins, wash the affected area with available outdoor
skin cleansers, which helps remove any allergenic oils, available
in pharmacies. This allows the natural healing of the skin without
possibilities of further contamination.
Over-the-counter anti-itch medications which contain active ingredients
like zinc acetate, hydrocortisone, and zinc oxide can help minimize
pain, itching, swelling and oozing caused by the poison oak. When
symptoms still persist, doctors may prescribe antihistamine creams,
lotions, or tablets.