I Hate Poison Ivy
I hate poison ivy. Not the movie where some old fart lusts after a nubile pseudo-teen goddess. The plant poison ivy is what I dislike. I never used to have anything against it, and probably rolled all over in it growing up as a kid. But somewhere around the age of 35 or so, I got a bad case of PI and it’s been all downhill (while scratching) from that point on. So here is how I deal with it….
First of all, you really need to understand what this stuff looks like. Even if you are in the 1% group that does not react to poison ivy, someone in your home may be highly reactive. The problem with PI is that it is essentially an oil-like material called urushiol contained within the plant which causes the rash and itching. If you break or crush the plant then this oil is going to get on you. Whether walking through the woods or (my favorite) when using the weed-eater. And for all that is holy – please do not burn poison ivy because the smoke will carry the oils into your mouth; nose; and lungs.
If you get exposed then you’re going to carry this oil home and rub it on the couch; the car; the door knob; the dog…your kids! The real fun part about PI is that you will not experience the blisters; the red welts; the itching; scratching; burning joy of this plant until a few days after being exposed (my experience). By then it’s too late to do anything other than suffer. And nobody cares to hear your sob stories. Either people will think you have really bad hygiene for all the rubbing and scratching; or (once confessed) you will be treated like a leper and shunned.
If you know that you have been exposed to poison ivy, the best thing to do is wash off the oil as fast as possible and also wash your clothes too – or just throw them away because the oil does not wear off or lose it potency over time. Don’t forget your shoes and shoe-laces too…they’re probably coated too. I have found a couple of specialty soaps that work quite well for me – like Tecnu Extreme scrub or Burt’s Bees soap. I also learned not to take a hot shower. Cool water and the special soaps will rinse the oils off. A hot shower may seem appropriate (and might even feel good too), but that simply opens all your pores so the oil gets deeply imbedded into your skin…. Not good. I’ve also found that Tecnu makes these little cleansing wipes in packets so you can leave them in the glove box or in your backpack for those odd occasions or emergencies.
Once you have an outbreak try to avoid scratching which will rupture the blisters and cause infections and continue the pain cycle. Some experts claim that the fluid in the blisters does not spread the poison ivy rash, but I have to disagree. For me, this only causes more blisters and rash so I am very careful about not spreading or making it worse than it already is. Furthermore, you really do not want to get it on your hands because then you will have in everywhere – your face; eyes (OMG); your ears…etc…everywhere you touch will break out. God have mercy on you if you spread it to your genitals. In some severe cases you may end up at the doctor or even the hospital to get hydrocortisone treatments.
Hopefully you never get a reaction to poison ivy, but remember to avoid bringing it home to your family and friends too. Well I’m off to take another shower…just writing this article has me itching all over again.
P.S. – You can also get poison ivy from your dog or cat. It coats their fur and then when you pet them its now on you too. Consider giving Fido a bath if this happens.
Tecnu Rash Relief Medicated Anti-itch Scar Prevention Spray Bottle, 6-Ounce
Manufacturer: GRABBER Performance Group
Brand: GRABBER OUTDOORS
Part Number: 952119
Amazon Price: $12.22