Fifteen percent of the population is lucky enough to be born without an allergy to urushiol, the active ingredient in poison oak, ivy and sumac.
I am not one of the lucky ones. Since I first started scrabbling around in the woods I have always had a couple awful cases every year. Some of them are my fault and involve drunken bonfires and hikes, careless root chopping and mountain bike rides through the woods in shorts. Sometimes I seem to do everything right and still get it. Either way, there are few things that make me more miserable than poison oak. I have had it in my eyes, on my junk and everywhere in between.
And as much as I hate it, poison oak is one of those things that you just learn to live with around the trails. You learn how to take care of yourself (you won’t catch me in short sleeves) and for something as good as carving a berm or riding a set of doubles, I’ll put up with a little itching every year.
Obviously I am not a doctor, but I have picked up some tips over the years.
Poison Oak/Ivy/Sumac tips:
Ask Jeremy Kaiser how he doesn’t get it. He is allergic to it but one time I saw him get drunk at the POWS trails, rub it all over himself and chase me around with a branch and after not showering and partying all night, he still didn’t get it.
Poison Oak avoidance techniques from the FBM site: