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  • 05/19/2015
  • FireRoots

Hello WLF.com community.

Every year I end up with the worse poison oak ever. Typically during the pre-season I do research to see if there are any new ideas or products that are out there to help prevent poison oak. If anyone has suggestions for me that would be great. I get it so bad that I think I might need a cortisone shot this year.

Thank you.

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  1. FireGal701
    May 19, 2015 Reply

    There is nothing you can take that will prevent you from getting poison oak (or ivy) if you’ve touched it and the oil is on your skin.. I did see a website (www.techlabsinc.com) that has products that if used right away, will remove the oil from your skin.. the only problem here is that you have to pretty much wash the oil away as soon as possible. The only other preventative measure is to completely avoid contact… being that you’re a wildland firefighter, this may be difficult, if not impossible to achieve..

    Good Luck!!

  2. capt 38
    May 19, 2015 Reply

    Go online and order a bottle of oral ivy. I used to get oak bad but after taking this stuff as directed I only get a very small rash at most.

  3. techs672
    May 20, 2015 Reply

    What capt38 says. I moved away from poison oak decades ago, but through the 1970s & 1980s that was the only solution I found reasonably effective in NoCal & W OR. At the time, steroids were considered a post-exposure extreme measure — not sure what the current game is.

    May 20, 2015 Reply

    I assume you’ve talked to your personal physician? That should be your first stop for health-related advice. They may well not be an expert on poison oak as such, but should be involved in your decisions if it is as bad as you say, and may be able to prescribe antihistamines or steroids ahead of time that could assist with heading off a severe reaction, or treating it early.

  5. mtdc
    May 20, 2015 Reply

    MTDC did a report on preventing poison ivy and recommended IvyBlock. It is no longer available but have heard from the field that IvyX seems to work.

  6. GRLonFIRE
    May 21, 2015 Reply

    This could be a little off topic but what happens when poison oak smoke is inhaled? Does it enter the blood stream and cause for extreme poison oak cases?

  7. fuels guy
    May 21, 2015 Reply

    Don’t know about that but…we were on the SQF burning and holding line. We had four lighters and the rest of the crew was holding. Smoke came over the line for a while, naturally. The next day the whole crew was in the hospital getting prednisone shots and pills. If I remember correctly the diagnosis was poison oak from ingestion.

  8. taxifolia
    May 21, 2015 Reply

    It is probably a little late in the season for this but if you are really having severe problems increasing in severity each season depending on the response you get from your primary provider I would recommend seeing an allergist if you have one in your area,

    But actually nothing will beat using whatever is the best cleansing agent that you can fine and using it as promptly and thoroughly as possible. Then you have less to treat. but you know that.

  9. Wildfire Dude
    May 22, 2015 Reply

    I have heard Certo works. I haven’t tried it, but I have talked to some that have and they say it works. Worth a try.


  10. KeLeCar
    May 22, 2015 Reply

    Ditto on the Certo………. from a friends son who was highly allergic to P.O.

  11. A
    May 24, 2015 Reply

    use Dawn dish soap to scrub away the oils

  12. Linemedic Ron
    May 24, 2015 Reply

    Take some dawn dish soap and wash up as fast as you can with it once you come in to contact. You can shower and wash gear fast and cheep. Zanfel I understand is a good fix but $$$$ http://www.zanfel.com/help. Steroids like cortisone and prednisone are aid once you have it and NOT returning to it as it is not a prevention. Also note the use of Steroids have there own problems and should be taken with care. Let you medical provider the last time you were given any. Also TAKE all pills and in the timeline given as cutting your dose to fast if on for an extended time can case other major problems like depression etc.

  13. Smokey307
    May 25, 2015 Reply

    I used to get the “Oak” pretty bad when I worked in SOCAL. For me, the best thing was a six pack and a day at the beach. Salt water is actually a pretty good cleanser and the six pack ……. I caution about getting sun burned. Burned skin can’t sweat and if you can’t sweat, you are more likely to get sun stroke. I found that out from experience. On one fire, the medical folks set up a double nozzle shower across from their tent so folks could wash away their oak. This was in the middle of the camp and there were a couple of pallets and a tall 2 x 4 to hold the nozzles. This was hooked to a garden hose. There were no partitions or blinds at all. A buddy and I were prescribed to use the showers. I’ve never felt as exposed as I was then standing naked in the middle of fire camp.

  14. Joe Hill
    May 26, 2015 Reply

    I carried a bottle of rubbing alcohol in my pack and used it as soon as I could after exposure. I’d rub myself down then rinse with canteen water to get rid of the poison oak oils. Alcohol is water soluble so it worked pretty good. If you reduce the contact time of the poison oak oil, the allergic reaction will be less. Not perfect, of course but pretty good.

  15. MLJ
    May 29, 2015 Reply

    You need to break it into 3 different issues. 1. Preventing the oil on the skin, keep sleeves down, gloves on, don’t touch face with gloves, ever, and use an ivy block or ivy-x product. This keeps the oil from getting on you. 2. getting oil off of you BEFORE you break out. Use Technu liquid cleaner, use it right, most people use it wrong. Put it on DRY skin that has poison oak exposure, not wet, and rub it in for a FULL 2 MINUTES on each affected area. Repeat if needed, rinse it off. 3. Stopping the itch if you break out. Use Zanfel cream for this, or a prescription cortisone product. Zanfel cream does very well IF you have all the oil off of you. Remember you can clean all you want, but if the oil is on your boots, or hardhat, or gloves, and you touch those, you have the oil on you again. Try various things, but these 3 steps are what you need to do. Good luck.

  16. kelly
    June 1, 2015 Reply

    Give this a look over. It may be useful.


  17. TW
    June 5, 2015 Reply

    I’m hyper-allergic. I got it once shaking hands. I had a standing Rx from my allergist for prednisone shot, cream, and pills. I was in NCal about 5 years ago and ran across a soap called Poison Oak&Ivy soap, has a red leaf on the cover with the name. You can google it. It takes the oil right off my skin, I usually don’t even itch. I carry a bar in my pack. The bar will melt, so I keep the box in a zip lock, soon as it cools off it reforms and still works. Haven’t used my Rx since.

  18. V
    June 9, 2015 Reply

    My advice from someone who used to be very sensitive to ivy/oak: consider moving/working in a different part of the country where these plants do not exist. If that is not possible, research/get testing as to why you have a compromised immune system from a naturopathic approach. Mine stemmed from food allergies, leaky gut syndrome, and autoimmune issues. This approach takes an incredible amount of self-discipline and commitment for many years but the associated benefits of healing yourself from the inside could save/lengthen your life.

  19. John Moulder
    June 20, 2015 Reply

    I too got poison oak so bad that I missed a whole month of school and had to repeat the 5th grade. When I was in high school I was on a hoshot team for Oregon State Forestry. My Doctor gave me a series of shots over about a 4 or 5 month period prior to the fire season to reduce the effect exposure to poison oak had on me. I am now 65 years old, retired Forest Service with lots of fire exposure. To this day my reaction to poison oak is that I only develop a small patch rather thanit covering my entire body. The Doctor was also very concerned about smoke and breathing burnt poison oak, so be very careful.
    Hope this helps, talk to your Doctor. Be safe.

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