Poison Oak (scratch scratch)

When I went mountian biking last week it appears that my lower leg rubbed up against some poison oak.
My right calf has several spots that have scabs on them and itch like crazy. I have scrubbed the area with soap and water on a washcoth put on hydrocortisone cream and I am taking Benadryl every 4 hours.
The urge to itch isn’t too bad right now, but if I try to skip a dose of eithe the cream or pills my leg will drive me crazy. :frowning:
What else should I be doing to make this go away? Or make it go away sooner?
Bonus question: Is there anything I could have done post ride that might have limited the outbreak, or prevented it?

Survivor of many poison oak episodes here. Hydrocotisone is the best anti-itch med. that I’ve found. Use liberally. The Benadryl may help, but it only puts me to sleep. Cold water can also help to kind of take the “heat” off, but there’s an after affect that is sometimes worse.
I don’t know that there is anything to really make the reaction go away any quicker - just stuff to try to minimize the irritation. For me, the bouts usually last a full week. About day 3 it seems to peak and is at its worst. But it tends to get progressively better after that.

As to what you could have done to prevent it: rinse any potentially exposed areas right after the activity. Even just water from your water bottle or whatever is handy. A full-on shower would be ideal, but the key is to try to rinse as quickly as possible after a potential exposure. So better to rinse with something than to wait for a more thorough washing.
For me, the itch and bumps don’t show up for about 3 days. So I never know if I washed enough at the time.
There are differing camps on whether to wash with either cold or hot/warm water (some claim the cold water will cause your pores to close and seal in the poison, some claim the hot/warm water will open your pores and allow more poison into your skin). But I think both camps agree that washing as soon as possible after exposure is key.

There was this stuff you could buy to “prevent” a reaction. The name escapes me. It was pretty gross - pretty much “pore clog” to keep the poison out of the skin. It was unclear how well it lasted when doing any activity that would cause you to sweat. I don’t know if it is still available, but I do remember it being pretty expensive.

Zanfel baby!! It is really expensive (about $30 for an ounce) but it works pretty damn good. You can even use it after you have broken out in the rash and it should really temper the reaction.

However, the best method I have found for dealing with the itch is really, really hot water. Put the water on in the shower as hot (and I mean HOT) as you can stand it…a handheld shower head really helps with this. Get in and spray the infected area. The wildland firefighters I have worked with refer to the ensuing sensation as “oakgasm.” It is quite…umm…intoxicating. In any case, the sensation quickly dies away and you move on to the next spot. I have found that this effectively kills the itch for 6-8 hours. So I usually end up doing it first thing in the morning, after work, and before bed.

Just so you know man, I totally feel for you. I am extremely susceptible to poison oak and have had it dozens of times.

In the past I’ve obtained a Medrol Dosepack which brought relief. An over-the-counter product which helps is Domeboro powder. Mixed with water, it creates a modified Burow’s solution, the active ingredient being aluminum sulfate. Using old sheets torn to size or gauze 4 x 4 pads, soak in the solution, wring out and apply to afflicted areas of the body. Evaporation has a cooling effect, and the aluminum sulfate acts as an astringent.

Here’s my sure-fire back alley cure for what ails ya:

A. Vigorously scratch the affected area to pop open any blisters or scabs. (A wallpaper brush works great for this.)

  1. Lightly soak a paper towel with household bleach.

Lastly. Gently dab bleached towel onto itchy area. The ensuing burning won’t be any worse than any other biking related mishaps you’ve experienced before. Don’t wash area for a few hours to ensure the bleach is absorbed into the wound.

After the burning subsides, you’ll notice the itchiness is mostly or completely gone. Within a few days the area will dry out completely and the poison ivy/oak/sumac will be no more. Your skin will be dry, red, and rough as sandpaper so moisturize heavily to help restore it to it’s former beauty. Sometimes takes a little while for the area to return to normal but it defintely gets rid of the itchy rash. It works everytime for me anyway.

Disclaimer: IANAD

I’ve heard (never tried it) that urushiol is soluble in alcohol, so immediate washing with beer or liquor should take most of it off your skin. Wash before it locks on. Wash it off, don’t spread it around.

For the itching phase, Ol’Gaffer’s hot method used to work for me. My version was to get a hairbrush and brush it till it went past itching to mild soreness (don’t be a masochist), and go on to the next area for the same. This stops it itching long enough to get to sleep. Otherwise, bedtime is the worst.

Also sliding an icecube over the itchy spots calms them down long enough to get to sleep.

The very hot water trick works because it depletes the chemicals in your synapes that send the “itch/pain” sensation. You get blissful relief from the itch until your body creates more of the chemical.

But be careful, really hot water can dry out and scald your skin, especially when you’ve pushed it so far as to lose some of the sensation. Scratching hard, especially opening up wounds on large sections of your skin is also a bad thing.

I’m extremely allergic, having needed steroids to fight PI on several occasions because I had it so bad. I use a combination of hot showers, hydrocordizone creams, and rubbing alcohol.

Prevention is much more important than treatment. :mad:

So what if I carried a bottle of rubbing alcohol in the car, and washed down my legs when I finished a ride. Would that remove the urushiol or just spread it around?