How To: Prevent a rash from poison oak or ivy

The key to avoidance is understanding how it works

How To
Poison oak/ivy/sumac can cause a painful rash to form if you don’t remove it from your skin properly.

Poison oak/ivy/sumac can cause a painful rash to form if you don’t remove it from your skin properly.

Santa Cruz, California, is an epic place to call home. The trails here are world class and the weather is temperate enough that you can ride year round. The only downside is poison oak. It’s everywhere. If you enjoy being outdoors in the woods, you’ll inevitably get it over the course of a summer.

To reduce that risk, it’s important to take preventative measures. The chemical that causes the rash from poison oak is called urushiol oil and is also produced by poison ivy and sumac. It is viable even years after a plant has died and can be easily transmitted by objects that may have come into contact with it – like your shoes, tires, or grips. The only effective way of preventing a rash is to make sure you remove this oil from your skin. For tips on the best ways to do this, hit play.

For even more info on poison oak prevention (and some gnarly pictures) check out this post.

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  • Joe says:

    Sounds great. How do you wash the wash cloth to ensure you don’t spread the oil if you use the washcloth again?

  • Klurejr says:

    Great Video – The only thing he missed is to wash with cool water, hot water will open up your pores and allow the oils to get trapped faster, and they might not wash off with friction at that point. Hot water can also spread the oils around your body and have the rash show up in an area that was not exposed to the oil in the first place.

  • ian says:

    Good article and comments. So you toss your clothes after each encounter with the noxious plant? How do you clean the oil off your clothes? Would get pretty expensive especially if bike gear.

    • Bryan says:

      Just put your clothes through the wash before you wear them again.

      • ian says:

        Thanks, just seems odd that the oil is quite hard to remove from your skin (friction required) but comes off with the agitation of a wash cycle.

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