Poison Oak and Rashes

  • Poison oak leaf It’s that time of year when trees and bushes begin to bloom.  Most of these beautiful plants are harmless to humans.  There is one plant that everyone should be cautious of: Poison Oak.  Poison Oak is a small bush type plant with leaves that occur in threes.  It is green in color with a yellow to reddish hue as it ages and will often look shiny.  The bush may or may not produce berries.  If a person comes into contact with this bush, they will likely develop a rash as a reaction to the urushiol oils on the plants leaves and twigs.  Depending on the location and severity of the exposure, the rash may vary from a minor aggravation to a serious problem. 

    skin with poison oak Rash Characteristics:  A very itchy, blistering rash caused by contact with the poison oak plant.  The rash will cause localized redness, swelling and weeping of the blister.  It is usually located on exposed body surfaces or areas frequently touched by the hands.  The rash is usually extremely itchy.  Onset of rash occurs in 1-2 days after exposure.  The pattern of rash is typically in lines or streaks. 

    Rash Causes: Poison Oak rash is caused by exposure to the oil from a poison oak plant.  The oil can be found on the leaves, branches, stems, berries, or roots of the plant.  Oils can also be carried and transmitted by animals. 

    Return to School: Poison oak is not contagious to others. There is no need to miss any school.

    Treatments: Severe reactions may require the attention of the pediatrician and prescription medications. Over the counter medications may also be given such as calomine. Tecnu is a soap commonly used by those working closely with poison oak that breaks down the urushiol oil that is present on the leaves. Always consult with your pediatrician about what medications you should use for your child.

    Don’t Forget! For all medications taken to school, from cough drops to prescribed treatments, a medication form MUST be completed by the parent and an order or the medication form must also be completed by the physician as per California Ed Code. Thank you for your understanding!