Patient Resources

POISON OAK Information

Poison oak is found throughout the United States. More than 50% of people are sensitive to it. Sensitivity varies. Some just get red along the twig scratch marks. Others blister. Poison oak usually lasts three weeks. Treatment reduces symptoms but does not cure the disease. The best approach is prevention.

PREVENTION. Learn to recognize these plants. Otherwise, avoid all plants with three leaves in a group. Wear long pants and socks when walking through woods that may contain poison oak. If you think your child has had contact with poison oak, wash the exposed areas of skin with any available soap several times. Do this as soon as possible. After one hour it is of little value in preventing absorption of the oil.

CONTAGIOUSNESS. The fluid from the sores themselves is not contagious. However, anything that has poison oak oil or sap on it is contagious for about one week. This includes the shoes and clothes the person last wore into the woods, as well as any pets that may have oil on their fur. Be sure to wash them off with soap and water. The rash begins 1-2 days after skin contact.

HOME TREATMENT. Soak the involved area in cold water or massage it with an ice cube for 20 minutes as often as necessary. Then let it air dry. This will reduce the itching.  Steroid cream can reduce the itching.  Only the over-the-counter strength 1% Hydrocortisone cream or “Cortaid” is safe for use on the face. Scratching will damage the skin. You can suppress itching with “Claritin”. For backup therapy use oral “Benadryl” or “Zyrtec”. One of these two medications should agree with your child in terms of sleepiness.

CALL OUR OFFICE if signs of infection occur, such as pus, soft yellow scabs, increasing redness OR if you have any other questions or concerns.


Chickenpox Vaccine (Varicella)
DTaP (Diptheria, Tetanus, Pertussis)
Hib (Haemophilus influenza type b)
Hepatitis A
Hepatitis B
HPV (Gardasil 9)
MenB (Meningococcal)
MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella)
PCV13 (Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine)
Polio IPV
Tdap (Tetanus, Diptheria, Pertussis)


poison control center phone number 1 800 222 1222