Its spring, and that thing that is near but not so dear to our hearts, poison ivy is in full bloom. It used to be that you could tear it off of trees with your bare hands and never have even a small itch, but as we get older we loose our resistance to many ailments and allergies and of course one of those allergies is poison Ivy.
Poison ivy secretes an oil to protect itself from plant eating animals and insects, it really just wants to be left alone but most of us like being in the outdoors so inevitably we have an encounter. Poison Ivy also emits pollen that mixes with other pollens in the spring and if you are outside even protected areas you are intolerible.
If you learn to identify the plant then you have some defense, at least you can skirt out around it, but if you even suspect that you have come in contact with it the best course is immediate action. Tide laundry powder is what I use and I apply it with my hand and rub it in good with lots of water. Do this to any area that is exposed. It will wash away the oil and the skin will usually bounce back overnight. However if for some reason you do not catch it in time then here are some tips to follow:
- Your first tendency will be to go to the pharmacy and buy the products on the shelf. They may do some good, but the washes for example are expensive and products such as Tide laundry powder and Lava pumice hand soap will work just as well.
- If you are washing in the shower use your hands instead of a wash cloth and define your wash to the affected area and once you are finished rinse your hands thoroughly. The wash cloth will spread the rash and transferring the rash to your face and eyes puts you in real trouble. Try to wash the area at least twice daily, dry it thoroughly and only use that towel one time.
- Buy Benadryl anti itch cream and apply it as needed. There are other products that claim to stop the itch, but you need to put a stick in your mouth to stand the pain and the one I used only inflamed the already injured area.
- If you can not stand the itch and can not help but scratch then go to the dollar store and buy a stiff bristled hair brush. It will stop the itch, give you the instant gratification, and best of all it will not break the skin. For some reason a hairbrush will stop the itch of insect bites and it actually stops it for an hour or more. The problem with using your finger nails is that it breaks the skin and of course it spreads the ivy infection.
- During the day you will unconsciously touch the infected area so make sure that you wash your hand often and dry them using paper towels.
- You will find that some years you will not have any problems with poison ivy and other years it looks like you have a continual rash. This happens because your immune system is at a weak state and not able to defend your skin. If the rash does not heal in a weeks time then go to your doctor, he / she can prescribe a regimen of steroids that can rejuvenate your immune system. One such steroid is Methylprednisolone.
Unfortunately there are only a few areas in the United States that poison ivy does not grow. It is just one of those situations that we must live with, but with some precautions and a quick reaction time you still can enjoy the outdoors without too many worries.