Urushiol, the chemical in poison oak responsible for rashes, takes about 15 minutes to bind to the skin, and washing it off immediately after contact can prevent an immune system reaction, writes dermatologist Derrick Adams. If the resin does set and a rash arises, topical cortisones and oral antihistamines can alleviate the discomfort, as can calamine, menthol, cold packs and oatmeal baths. Serious reactions can cause asthma symptoms and low blood pressure, and they should be treated by a doctor immediately.

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