Poison Oak Information

Notice the "leaves of 3", shiny texture and lobed edges. These leaves will be yellow & green in the spring, green in the summer, green & red in the fall and ultimately fall off in the winter, exposing the stem. This plant often imitates the flora around it, growing to either the size of a patch of grass, a 6ft. bush, or even a tree by climbing trees with it/s vines.


Poison Oak contains an oil called urushiol (say that 10 times fast...), causing an itchy rash on the skin having made contact with the oil. This typically takes 12-24 hours to show, and lasts around 5-14 days. All parts of poison oak contain this oil on its surface (yes, including the stem). Fear not, however, as this seemingly invisible oil can be removed if washed quickly with cold water and lots of friction. Tecnu (a poison oak wash)  and poison oak soaps can often be found in your local health food stores and have been recommended to aid in the process.


If an itchy rash does occur, keeping the rash cold and exposed will help reduce the itching and, like mosquito bites, itching will only make it itch more, unfortunately.


During our days in Earth Education, we will do our very best to ensure a safe distance from this lobe-leafed fellow, however, mistakes do happen. If your child did in fact make contact with poison oak, or you just want to be on the safe side, a quick cold shower with lots of friction (I know, not exactly something to look forward to!) and a change of clothes should suffice upon the return trip home.


For further readings, here are some useful resources:


Poison oak oils & further allergen information

And a video often referenced by Earth Education programs. It talks about poison ivy, which doesn't grow on the west coast, but behaves similarly and contains the same oils.


Happy trails! 

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