How Long Does Poison Oak Last (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 3-4 Weeks

Many natural substances can be quite harmful to human beings. Especially if we talk about plants, trees, and herbs, many of them can prove to be dangerous to us. People are well aware of some plants being poisonous, while others, there is not enough knowledge available at present.

Poison oak is one such plant that can cause harm to you. Many people know about it, but only a few might be knowing that it is not that touching the plant can cause a rash or something. It is the oil that the poison oak plant releases that causes a rash in humans. 

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How Long Does Poison Oak Last?

TypeDuration Of Healing
Small Affected Area12-13 Days
Large Affected Area3-4 Weeks

When the leaves of poison oak are broken or the plant is harmed in any way, an oil called urushiol is released, which is toxic to humans. The oil activates the body’s immunological system, resulting in a rash.

The oil can be found in even dead leaves, stems, or roots, and it can even be inhaled if the plants are burned. Poison ivy and sumac both produce urushiol, which is the same oil. If the oil gets on clothes or is carried on a pet’s coat, it might cause indirect contact. Urushiol does not affect cats or dogs in general, but they can carry it.

The majority of people, although not all, have an adverse reaction to the oil, which is known as allergic contact dermatitis. It normally occurs half a day to three days after coming into contact with the plant oil.

In most cases, people get adversely affected by the oil produced by poison oak plants. And, when you do get affected, you get rashes which may last from twelve to thirteen days to around three to four weeks as well.

People who are allergic to the oil do not experience symptoms until they come into contact with it again. From the initial encounter, the immune system learns to recognize the oil and reacts forcefully to it on subsequent encounters.

A lot of research has been performed on poison oak to see how effective it can be. According to the studies, ninety-five out of every hundred people will get affected by the plant. This is because most people are allergic to the oil produced by the poison plant.

Why Does Poison Oak Last That Long?

The rashes you get from the oil from the poison oak last for different duration of time for different people. The main reason for it is that people who have already suffered from a rash caused by poison oak can get well sooner. While, on the other hand, people who get in contact with it for the first time, take longer to heal completely. 

A poison oak rash forms where the oil came into contact with the skin. It can, however, form on regions of the body that are not in contact with the plant. It begins as itching and moderate irritation, then progresses to a red rash that becomes increasingly itchy. Bumps will appear, which may progress to blisters. After 3-4 weeks, the rash will fade away.

The irritation varies depending on whatever part of the body is afflicted, yet some characteristics are present everywhere. It’s always accompanied by extremely itchy, red skin. Multiple streaks are frequently visible in the area of skin touched by the oil. Swelling is prevalent, and hives can sometimes occur.

The problem is more problematic if the rash covers a wide area or is located in a location that makes moving difficult. This is especially common in persons who are frequently exposed to poison oak, such as those who work in areas where it thrives.

This is another reason as well because of which the rashes you get from the oil of the poison oak last that long. When the affected area is small, it can heal easily, while when you get rashes over a large area of your body, it takes around a month to heal.


Poison oak is among those plants that can be quite toxic for humans. The rashes you get from the oil of that plant can spread badly on your skin. Though it happens in the area where the oil has come in contact with your skin. But, it is not compulsory. It can spread in other areas of your skin as well. 

It is possible to get in contact with poison oak when you are not aware of the side effects it may have. But, now when you are well aware of how toxic it is, you should do some online research on your own, and try to take precautions so that you don’t come in contact with any such plant.



Last Updated : 23 February, 2024

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