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Not end of summer fun: For poison ivy sufferers and their families

September 2, 2013

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(Image Provided by Classroom Clipart)

What is your tried and true method of dealing with poison ivy and its cousins? I have just found a very cheap and almost ubiquitous remedy that eases the itch right now and you can find it anytime you walk in a store, at checkout counters, heck, even on the pulpit at church.

I’ll spare you pictures of my current rash and allow webmd to provide the real facts and pictures of the main three poisons, ivy, oak and sumac, if you are not well acquainted. (And if you really want pictures of bad cases, here is a page, and yes, I’ve looked some of these at various times in my life.)

Over the years I have had my share of poison oak and ivy, usually getting it at least once a year, sometimes twice or more, no matter how careful I am. Right now I have something itchy that is probably poison ivy but it started as a very light case and spread. Checking out the pictures of poison sumac just now, I may have had contact with that as I’m not as tuned to looking for that.

Everyone who gets any of the poison rashes is an expert: what to look for, how to avoid infection if you come in contact, how to treat it, what creams to use and so on.

My first ever case came the summer I was 13 and my family traveled out west. By the time I got home I was breaking out with a mass of horrible hard blisters and an oozing orange gunk. I think it got so bad because I scratched it so much, never having encountered it before and I was the first of my siblings to get it. Another time it spread so much and so deep that it got in my blood stream with hard lumps at my groin. But I think the scariest case was on my face when I didn’t realize I had come in contact. Once poison spreads to your eye region, you better get to a doctor, fast.

I have appreciated when physicians have given me a shot to help control symptoms (I’ve never found a doctor willing to give me shots to prevent me from getting it, although I’ve heard people say they’ve gotten such shots); it seems like the “after-contact” shot given as treatment for a really bad case has provided some protection for a while after—like I have gone a year or two without getting it, but maybe it was just because I didn’t come in contact with the dreaded three.

Every home where I’ve lived as an adult has had poison ivy growing on the property, and while we spray it with Clorox and stronger stuff, my analysis is, you don’t really get rid of it, you can only try to control it.

The best way of course is to avoid contact. The second best solution if you suspect you have come in contact with it is to wash within 2-6 hours with a mechanic’s gritty scrub such as GoJo to remove the oil from your skin in case you’ve come in contact. I have used GoJo anywhere I think I came in contact with it, including on my face.

In my long journey with various poisons, I now end up with it only if don’t know I’ve come in contact with it. In the beginning the methods of itch control and “cure” has included everything from your basic pink calamine lotion (ugly and not very effective) to bathing in baking soda (messy and not very effective) to Ivy Dry liquid or cream (messy and not very effective) to over-the-counter-cortisone type cream, to prescribed creams like Betamethasone, the last two being the most effective for me.

The treatments that I like best, if despite all this I still end up with it, are simple and cheap. I will now share the amazing find, passed on from one of my husband’s work colleagues and he can’t even remember who it was: Just try an antibacterial cleanser on it. It almost immediately eases any itch and seems to dry out the rash very quickly. If you have open sores, it will sting a bit. But it’s cheap. And yes, my pastor keeps it on the pulpit for washing hands quickly before she handles the communion bread.

This may not seem like a “Finding Harmony” post but when you’ve got poison, you ain’t got much harmony so finding ways to control and combat it sounds like harmony to me.

You read about this treatment here first. Let me know if it works for you.

If you want more help in identifying the various leaves when you are hiking or elsewhere, try the T-shirt!

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From → Family Life, Nature

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