Curing Poison Oak and Poison Ivy

A simple soap is all you need.

Eric Armstrong

For poison oak, there is one truly effective remedy. It's called "tecnu" -- a liquid soap that's specially formulated to combine with the poison oak juice (urushiol). You rub it in gently for a couple of minutes and wash it off with cool water. (Urishol binds with the skin, so it's impervious to regular soap.)

It was used by the forest service for a couple of decades before making it to the shelves of grocery stores and drug stores, and I can tell you that it truly does work. I used to have to go the doctor for cortisone shots and pills -- which suppress the immune system -- but it turns out that there is no "immune response" at all. The stuff spreads *only* because the oil adheres to the fingers and is transferred elsewhere when you rub or scratch.

Using tecnu once or twice is generally sufficient to take care of the problem. After that, you feel a mild itch as the skin heals, but nothing intense.

If you do feel severe itching in the next couple of days, it's probably because you contacted some of the oil on your shoes or an article of clothing. (Wash everything!) In that case, use tecnu once again. Basically, it's just soap, so you can use it as often as you need to.



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