How Long Does Poison Oak Last

How long does poison oak last? If you've got this maddeningly itchy rash driving you crazy, you're going to groan when you hear the answer. Most poison oak rashes take two to three weeks to heal completely. However, the worst itching should be in the first week or so; the itching should subside as time passes and the pustules heal.

Poison oak itches so much because the oil from the poison oak leaves causes a serious reaction on your skin. Some people are more sensitive to this oil than others, resulting in even bigger and more itchy pustules and rashes. If you get large amounts of poison oak oil on a great deal of your body, you can experience some severe rashes and serious discomfort.

If you scratch the pustules open, you will open yourself up to infection, which can make a bad situation worse. You will also extend your recovery time and risk unsightly scarring. It's very hard not to scratch poison oak rashes, but it's best if you try not to scratch or at least not scratch hard enough to break the skin. If you must scratch, wrap your hand in a washcloth and rub gently so you protect the skin from breaking.

If you're suffering from a poison oak rash, try the following poison oak remedies:

  • Calamine lotion: The old standard, calamine lotion, is still your best bet for relief. Apply as much as you want as often as you want. Fresh applications really do make a difference.
  • Ice: Wrap ice in a towel and apply to the itchy areas. Ice will numb the rash without hurting your skin.
  • Topical analgesics: You'll find anti-itch creams with topical analgesics in the drug store.  
  • Oral analgesics: Take the recommended dose of acetaminophen round the clock for that whole first week.
  • Oatmeal: Look for oatmeal bath preparations as well as topical lotions containing oatmeal. Oatmeal is soothing for itchy skin, so it serves as an excellent poison oak remedy.
  • Prescription drug relief: If the rash is bad enough or widespread enough, you can ask your doctor to prescribe a corticosteroid. One such medication is prednisone. The prednisone will reduce the itching and swelling, but may make you feel anxious and make it difficult to sleep at night.
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