Oh Poison Ivy… the shear thought of it just makes my skin itch! If you have ever had Poison Ivy, than you know what I am talking about… but if you haven’t, it is almost impossible to imagine — So please, consider yourself lucky! 🙂
Unfortunately, Poison Ivy grows just about anywhere, and can actually come in many different shapes, sizes, and forms… sometimes making it easily mistaken as something else. It also looks different throughout each of the 4 seasons, whether it be a 3-leafed plant, a leafy vine, an empty vine, a plant or vine with or without berries, or colored red, brown, green, shiny, not shiny, jagged leaves, or smooth leaves…. (I know — SO confusing!!)…
The best way to deal with Poison Ivy is to be aware of what it is and where it grows — and STAY AWAY! This year I thought that I would be super awesome and outsmart the Poison Ivy over in the fence line while digging for antique bottles… And yes, I was warned by both of my parents in which I totally responded with “I know, I know!”… But as with most lessons in life, I always have to learn the hard way! 😉
So here I am covered in Poison Ivy…. Itchy, scratchy, and over one week into it, still spreading with no sign of the end in site 🙁 — Lesson to the wise: Listen to your parents!!! LOL
What I didn’t realize is that poison ivy is so EVIL! and so potent, that not only can you catch it from touching the plant itself, it can also be caught from the root system, or even in the air if it is a specially hot and muggy day! This also means that burning poison ivy is a huge No-No! The fumes can actually cause an allergic reaction within the lungs and throat, causing dire respiratory emergency!
The actual organic substance that causes the allergic reaction among more than half of the human population is known as Urushiol, (pronounced Yoo-roo-she-all). Urushiol is such an extremely determined and evil substance, it can remain on an object once it has been touched, for years later! This makes it important to wash any tools, clothes and body parts vigorously with an oil-deterring detergent (like dish-soap or shampoo), that have come into contact with the substance. And washing only once may not cut it… studies have shown that Urushiol is such a strong oil, that it may take up to 10 washes or more to fully remove it from your body! Another thing to keep in mind is that Urushiol can be contracted through your pets! Eeek!
Throughout my research to find that instant Poison Ivy relief, it has become quite apparent that Poison Ivy is still to this day a controversial topic…. Is it contagious to others? Can it still spread among your own body? Unfortunately I cannot answer these questions 100% accurately, but can give a detailed account of my own personal experience…
Studies say that once the Urushiol has been properly removed from your body that the Poison Ivy is no longer contagious to yourself or others…. However, while I find the first to be false, I find the later to be true. The poison ivy has not spread to any others that I have been among (thank goodness!!!), but it continues to spread all over my body… Some medical professionals will argue that I am still somehow in contact with the Urushiol (although I am confident that this is NOT the case!), while others will argue that if poison ivy has previously been in your system, it will reoccur in these areas whether or not they have been in direct contact with the Urushiol once again.
So now that you have a brief summary on the very evil and relentless Poison Ivy substance, Urushiol, I will now try to answer the original question posed: Poison Ivy — Is There Any Relief??!! To answer in short, I am going to say NO – NOT REALLY!! :s …
That being said, I will now list the # different methods that I have tried, and their results… It is important to remember that everybody is different, and what didn’t work for me, may just work for you! And before I list them, I would just like to point out that some of these methods are definitely NOT recommended!!! But, I did try every single one listed, and I will let you know my honest thoughts 🙂
1. Get to the Dr.’s IMMEDIATELY and get your hands on either some prednisone pills or cortisone cream! DO NOT WAIT! GO! GO! GO! These two things have been known to stop Poison Ivy in it’s tracks… (however I waited too long, and neither are working for me! Of course! — LOL)… – Recommended – Unrated.
2. Take an Antihistamine (such as Benadryl). Recommended – Unrated.
3. Take a Histamine Blocker (such as Zantac). Recommended – Unrated.
4. Calamine Lotion – Recommended – When it comes to Poison Ivy, Calamine Lotion is the automatic go-to… but does it actually work? Not really… I give it a relief rating of about 3.5 when you are applying the lotion, and as soon as it dries, you are left with dry, scaling, just as itchy skin. However, it does help dry the rash out.
5. Vinegar – Recommended – Try pouring vinegar (regular or apple) onto the affected area and let it air-dry… This method scores about a 4 on the relief scale…. being that it will take the itch out and replace it with a temporary sting for about 5 minutes. This method kind of works, but who has time to stand there and pour vinegar on their self all day??!
6. Baking Soda – Recommended – Mix baking soda with water to create a paste and apply to the affected area. With a relief rating of 6, this can be considered one of the better methods, however it is extremely messy! And as soon as the paste dries, it starts crumbling off, and the temporary relief ceases.
7. Bleach, Javax or Rubbing Alcohol – NOT Recommended! – The theory behind this method is that it will get rid of any Urushiol left on your skin and stop the spread. However, not only does it NOT WORK, it is also EXTREMELY BAD FOR YOUR SKIN! And yes, as desperate as I am, I did try it – several times :s and it did not work… the Poison Ivy still continues to spread.
8. Oatmeal or Milk Bath – Recommended – Soaking in either an oatmeal or milk bath can definitely bring temporary relief to the terrible suffering of one covered in Poison Ivy. I give either of these two methods a relief rating of 6, due to the fact that they are soothing and calming to your skin, but once again, only temporary. :s (If you are thinking of trying this method, try my DIY Cinnamon-Vanilla Milk Bath!)
9. The Volcano Method – Recommended – Remember when you were in grade-school, and you did the ultimate mother of all science projects — the Erupting Volcano! Well, I decided to mix methods 2 & 3 together, with a little water… and this is what I came up with: In a big tub, sink, or bowl, fill with cold water, add 1/6 proportion of vinegar, and sprinkle in a couple of tablespoons of baking soda. While soaking the affected area, the fizzing bubbles feel SO good! And even after patting dry, I experienced Poison Ivy Relief anywhere from 1/2 and hour to two full hours! This method gets a two-thumbs-up 8! (Yah, I know — it isn’t no 10, but not a bad contender for the Poison Ivy Relief Scale…)
10. A535 Ice Gel – Recommended – A thought that came to mind was: Is it possible to numb this unbelievable, indescribable itch?! And the answer is YES! — A535 Ice Gel will give you temporary relief, for almost 20 minutes, to half an hour! Small peas, right? — Well not really… when you are suffering from Poison Ivy, just 5 minutes of temporary relief can be HUGE! So for this reason, A535 Ice Gel also gets a rating of 8.
I hope that at least one of these methods brings some kind of relief to you! And if you have any suggestions or methods yourself, let us know!