Do We Really Need Poison Oak on This Planet?

Wow!  I had no idea how unpleasant an encounter with poison oak could be.

Two of our kids (our son and one of the twins) somehow contracted poison oak from a local park where our son attended a summer camp.  We had never dealt with poison oak before, so it took us more than a week to even recognize it, let alone treat it.  Poor T and S– they are still healing, a month later!  We read information online, of course, and from everything we could find it seemed that they should recover on their own in a few days with regular applications of calamine lotion, but it continued to fester with both of them.  After two weeks of suffering we finally took them to the doctor for prescriptions of steroids and antibiotics (to prevent infection).  Sheets had been changed, but I washed all bedding (including stuffed animals) to ensure that they weren’t getting new exposure.  We washed all the laundry in hot water for the past several weeks (and will continue that for a while yet) to make sure we get all of the poison oak oil out of all clothing.  Since we don’t know exactly when the exposure happened, we don’t know what they were wearing.

While they generally all played together at the park at pick-up time, it is interesting that only two of the kids were exposed.  Of course, I’m grateful for that, but it makes it harder to know how to prevent future exposure.   We got back from a camping trip last week, and there was a lot of poison oak throughout the campsite.  We were there with a good friend who recognized it easily (and there was a large sign at the entrance of the campground, warning campers about it); she pointed out where it was to all the kids and explained to them that they mustn’t touch it or even brush up against it.  The fact that you can get it on your clothing, and then inadvertently touch it and spread it to various parts of your body makes it so insidious.

Of course, with four kids in a campground with lots of poison oak I expected that we would face it again– and I was right, unfortunately.  Somehow V must have brushed up against some on the last day.  As soon as we got back from camping I had them strip off their clothes as they went into the guest house and go right to the shower, using special soap for poison oak.  We washed all the clothes from the trip in hot water.  Even still, poison oak appeared on V’s leg a day later, and has since spread.  Either she somehow got the oil on something in the house (God knows what)  or it is spreading from her sores, but we keep finding new itchy spots.  So awful!  I hate it, I hate it, I hate it . . . Why does this stuff need to even exist?  Can’t we somehow rid the planet (or at least popular parks) of this nasty plant?  And while we are at it, how about also getting rid of mosquitoes?

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