ID & treat Poison Oak in Southern Oregon.
ID & treat Poison Oak in Southern Oregon.

WARNING:  Poison Oak is NO FUN.  But avoiding it will make your trip more fun!  Don’t even touch the stems.

Most people have a horrible reactions to Poison Oak that includes itching, oozing sores that swell, feel hot to the touch and scab over, sometimes taking weeks to heal even with Calamine lotion.  Still others are deathly allergic to the stuff, requiring a Cortisone shot or some Prednizone happy pills.  I am the latter.  I’ve learned to ID Poison Oak… this horrible crap, in all seasons.

The biggest thing to remember is “LEAVES OF THREE, NOT FOR ME.”  The Poison Oak plant native to the Southern Oregon Area has three, often oily red or green leaves at each bud along straight branches that protrude from one main, straight stem.  They can get 20 feet tall, grow around other trees and bushes, and get their nasty oil on anything it touches.  The oil is caustic to your skin.  Wash your boots, clothes, dogs and gear like walking sticks when you come out of the woods.  If you get it, don’t scratch and spread it.  Also, a petroleum based product called “Technu” is available at most drug stores and outdoor stores.  If you scrub up with that after being in a Poison Oak patch.  It breaks down the oil and lathers it so it can wash away.  Do that in under an ours in my experience.  I keep it in my pack.

If you do get Poison Oak, treat it quickly with the remedies found below and hit the doctor’s office if it gets in your eyes, mouth, or genitals (yeah, I went there).  It generally starts to sprout buds and saplings in March at 1500 to 2500 feet above sea level and does not generally grow above 5000 ft.  I find it sparse at 4000 ft.  Yeah, yeah, I know there are a few people that can run through Poison Oak naked and get nothing.  Bite me. LOL. 🙂

"Leaves of THREE not for ME!"

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Ryan Mallory


Ryan Mallory, Admin & Editor - Great Oregon Outdoors Ryan Mallory enjoys the mountain man life and loves the Great Oregon Outdoors and Pacific NW. Join him for a look at hikes, fishing trips, hunting, photography and other outdoor sports.  He owns and operates a consulting Company called Oregon Marketing Pros LLC, Scanner Group LLC (50,000+ on Facebook Groups in the area), the Southern Oregon Gun & Ammo Exchange, the brother to this project at Southern Oregon Outdoors on Facebook, and this site (Great Oregon Outdoors).  Connect with Ryan here. “Actio Enim Amore Patriae”