ZocdocAnswersHow do you treat poison oak?

Question

How do you treat poison oak?

I was in the woods yesterday and I think I have poison oak now because my legs are really itchy and they hurt too. How do I treat this? Do I just put lotion on it or do I need to get something prescribed by a doctor?

Answer

I am sorry to hear that you are so uncomfortable! Poison oak and poison ivy are two plants that are commonly encountered in the woods. Usually you don't even know that you came in contact with the plant until it is too late. Symptoms include a red, blistering rash that tends to spread and can be quite painful. If you have this kind of rash, how you treat it depends on how bad the symptoms are. First of all, make sure to wash all the potentially contaminated clothing really well, as you want to limit spreading the exposure to other parts of your body. If the rash is in just a few spots, you can usually get by with soothing bathes and a topical lotion like calamine or hydrocortisone. You should avoid scratching or breaking open the blisters, as this might lead to a skin infection. This is worth discussing with your primary care doctor. This is because more extensive cases of poison ivy or poison oak generally require an oral steroid medication in order to clear up completely. Please see your doctor soon, and good luck. I hope you are feeling better soon!

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