Off the wall question about Poison Oak VS Food Allergies


Here's an off the wall question that has been hauting me since I found out earlier this month that both my kids have severe food allergies (PA & walnut). Why is it that to keep from having an allergic reaction to poison oak, people can either drink the serum that is from the actual poison oak plant or drink the milk from a goat that eats poison oak (like some friends of ours), but people with food allergies should not eat any part of that food or drink milk from an animal that has eaten that food? I wonder what makes a poison oak allergy so much different than a food allergy?

On Mar 31, 2002

Bizzare, isn't it! There seems to be a fine line between allergens that can be minimized by desensitization shots, and those that have to be strictly avoided for the chance of outgrowing them. Which I think is pretty much the same as what you have said, right? It baffles me,and I intend to bring this subject up with my allergist on Wednesday. jillsmom

On Apr 1, 2002

I am really curious to hear your allergist's response, so please feel free to post it. I may be seeing our allergists sometime this week too & will also post his response. You know the saying, "Two allergist heads are better than one"!! --Amy

On Apr 1, 2002


On Apr 1, 2002

Well, I can tell you from *bitter* personal experience that a truly severe allergy is never a very good candidate for this type of do-it-yourself desensitization!! I personally think its because the responses are so complex (affected by a lot of other factors which interact with your immune system). While about 80% of the general population is susceptible to urushiol sensitization, only a very small fraction of those people will *ever* experience anything other than an extremely exasperating skin reaction to urushiol (the vile resin). While I am not minimizing the overall ugliness of such a localized reaction- trust me when I say it can certainly be worse! I am definitely in the very unlucky minority~ a single point skin exposure can lead to a full body rash as well as angiodema and hives, sometimes beginnning in as little as a few *hours* (rather than days) after exposure! [img][/img] I have never needed ER treatment only because the onset is slow enough that steriodal treatments from my doctor's office are effective. I have never been able to successfully "desensitize" myself via any of the conventional methods that work for many people- though I have given myself nasty reactions trying. I have "desensitized" myself accidentally through a series of reactions to actual exposures, but the effect's magnitude (ie- how protected am I) and how long it lasts is highly unpredictable.

I'll be interested to hear what the allergists have to say about it though! [img][/img]