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March 1974

Poison Oak Hyposensitization: Evaluation of Purified Urushiol

Author Affiliations

San Francisco; Bethesda, Md; New York

From the Department of Dermatology, University of California, San Francisco (Dr. Epstein); Division of Biologics Standards, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Bethesda, Md (Dr. Baer); and Department of Chemistry, Columbia University, New York (Drs. Dawson and Khurana). This investigation was performed at Vacaville Medical Facility, Vacaville, Calif (Thomas D. Clannon, MD, Superintendent).

Arch Dermatol. 1974;109(3):356-360. doi:10.1001/archderm.1974.01630030016002

More than 500 volunteers were patch tested with dilutions of purified poison oak urushiol in acetone. Of this group, 69 subjects participated in three experiments that conclusively showed that large amounts of urushiol taken over a period of three or more months produced measurable hyposensitization, as detected by repeated patch testing. No systemic toxicity was observed, but pruritus ani was common, and occasional skin eruptions were seen when too much drug was given. These cutaneous symptoms and signs disappeared once the subject had become hyposensitized.