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March 16, 1984

Sensitivity test may aid in avoiding `poison' plant-induced dermatitis

JAMA. 1984;251(11):1389-1390. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340350003001

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A research project that will soon get under way in the Los Padres National Forest near Santa Barbara, Calif, may make outdoor recreation activities a lot safer and more comfortable for people throughout the country.

Using a patch test kit developed by William L. Epstein, MD, professor and chair of dermatology, University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, under contract with the Department of Agriculture's Forest Service Equipment Development Center in Missoula, Mont, approximately 300 to 400 men and women who work in the woods will determine their sensitivity to poison oak and poison ivy.

West of the Rocky Mountains, poison oak is the name for the ubiquitous North American plant containing the phenollike compound urushiol. It is this oil in the plant's sap that causes the redness, blisters, and interminable itching that makes so many summertime pursuits so memorable. Dissimilar looking— although still illustrating the old admonition "leaves