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Re: A course in poison oak management

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A course in poison oak management
December 06, 2011 08:32AM
On our hike up to the top of Stag’s Leap last week, we had a bit of a misadventure. The problem was, we didn’t know how much of a misadventure until more recently. We followed the use trail, and it climbed straight up to the top of the ridge, then clambered over every single rock and hummock on the top of the ridge. That made for great view of the scenery, but we got a little tired of the constant up and down.
So on the return trip I suggested that we parallel the trail below the top of the ridge.

Now the West side of the ridge is sheer cliffs in many places, so we stayed on the East side. And the plan worked perfectly for quite a while. And then we came to a hillside covered with brush that lay between us and the final descent into the valley. We poked away at game trails for a while, but like most game trails, they didn’t go where we wanted to go. And so I finally decided to break through the brush for about fifty feet, and did so. On the other side, the trail waited for us calmly.

Yeah, I thought about poison oak when I did it. And I knew that poison oak can affect you even in the winter, when it has no leaves. But this didn’t look like poison oak to me—at least most of it. And I also seemed to remember that poison oak was a bit uncomfortable, but nothing to really worry about. And besides, we were close to home, and ready to hop into a shower to soap up immediately after we got home.

So what have we learned?

I was right. Most of what we hiked through wasn’t poison oak. Thank God. Because a week later a few of those scratches on me were bad enough that I had to go see a doctor about getting some kind of help. The heavy use of Benadryl and Cortisone cream was making no headway.

And all the rest of that stuff I remembered about poison oak? Forget it. A quick and intensive session with soap and water did not prevent the poison oak reaction. And poison oak is a lot more than a little uncomfortable.

And yeah, yeah. I know. You told me so.



Balzaccom

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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/06/2011 08:33AM by balzaccom.
avatar Re: A course in poison oak management
December 06, 2011 12:02PM
If bad, soaking in hot water with a bunch of Epsom salt works wonders. I swear by Calagel. It stops the itch in a way that nothing else can.
Re: A course in poison oak management
December 07, 2011 03:58PM
I heard that Tecnu, though a bit pricey, is great for removing the poison oak oils from skin and clothing.
avatar Re: A course in poison oak management
December 07, 2011 07:35PM
Quote
Ohnivy-Drak
I heard that Tecnu, though a bit pricey, is great for removing the poison oak oils from skin and clothing.
Regular washing is usually good enough for clothing. The Tecnu must be used right away. For the stuff that you miss, Calagel, made by the same company, is the best I've ever tried... and I've tried them all.
Re: A course in poison oak management
January 04, 2012 01:49PM
Quote
Ohnivy-Drak
I heard that Tecnu, though a bit pricey, is great for removing the poison oak oils from skin and clothing.

I've read that using soap and cold water is just as effective as Tecnu to get the poison oak oil off the skin and clothes, and it's a lot less expensive than using up bottles of Tecnu. You must use cold water because hot water will encourage the oil to spread around, which you do not want. From what I understand, the oils sit on your skin for some time. If you happen to wash it off, great. If not, it will eventually bind with the dermis and essentially become part of your skin, such that no amount of scrubbing will get rid of it so you're stuck with it until it runs its course. I've heard this window of time is about 20 minutes from exposure.

I don't think poison oak oil has a magical property that binds it to clothes. It's just another oil, so washing clothes (or garden tools) in water and normal detergent works to get it off. I go mountain biking through copious amounts of poison oak quite frequently, and I just wash my clothes with normal detergent and I've always been fine. I do get it from time to time, but it's never a surprise.

And yes, you can certainly get it in the winter from what we call 'naked poison oak' around here. It's just a stick with no PO leaves on it. Once you've seen enough PO, it becomes very easy to spot even the naked poison oak sticks. It's got a certain color, thickness, and evilness to it that makes it stand out from other vines and such.
avatar Re: A course in poison oak management
December 06, 2011 01:30PM
Quote
balzaccom
And poison oak is a lot more than a little uncomfortable.

Yep! But you can improve the situation with prednisone. So if you get poison oak, see your doctor.
avatar Re: A course in poison oak management
December 06, 2011 01:34PM
avatar Re: A course in poison oak management
December 06, 2011 06:02PM
Quote
chick-on
http://www.ivyblock.com/

I used that stuff a few years ago and, after almost wading through PO on the Willow Creek 'trail' in Ventana Wilderness, came away unscathed. And I'm pretty susceptible, and find Tecnu only marginally beneficial.

That said, I wish they could do something about the shelf life. At $15/bottle, a longer shelf life would be helpful.
avatar Re: A course in poison oak management
December 06, 2011 06:58PM
Some useful info here:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1308758/pdf/westjmed00315-0068.pdf



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: A course in poison oak management
December 06, 2011 07:05PM
Quote
Frank Furter
Some useful info here:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1308758/pdf/westjmed00315-0068.pdf

I've had this happen: "Treatment of shorter duration, using for example prepackaged methylprednisolone dose packs may result in severe rebound exacerbations shortly after discontinuation."
avatar Re: A course in poison oak management
January 04, 2012 07:08AM
The best cure here in the south is taking a shower using Dawn dish-washing soap as soon after your exposure as possible. This stuff cuts the "oils" from the Ivy, Oak or Sumac. Great stuff to try. I have 3 boys that if they just see it, they get it!!
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