Poison Ivy Blues

It must be poison ivy season: my co-worker Nick and I both got it this weekend and we weren't even in the same town. This is my first time getting poison ivy EVER. I actually thought I was immune to it because I've been a camper since I was a little Girl Scout in elementary school. I enjoy hiking, camping and gardening and have never gotten the rash that usually comes with poison ivy, oak, or sumac.

After confirming that the three red bumps on my left arm were not spider bites and were definitely a form of one of these poison plants, I started looking into this allergy. It looks like my theory is wrong: Just because I've never had poison ivy in my 23 years of existence does not mean I am forever immune to the plant. It sometimes takes multiple exposures or several years to finally develop an allergic response! Up to 90% of people are allergic to the urushiol oil in these plants and the more times you are exposed, the more likely it is you will break out.

This weekend I was at a friend's house and three people there had poison ivy. They assured me it is not contagious; then I got the three "spider bites" the next day. But I had been gardening earlier that day. I've learned you need direct contact with the urushiol oil to get the reaction so I could have been the gardening OR my friend's dog could have had the oil on her and I petted the dog that night. I guess I'll never know.

Apparently poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac are the most common allergies in the country, affecting half the population. I started wondering what all these people do when they get it! I assumed my bumps would go away within a day or two, like mosquito bites. Sadly, I've been told it will take a week or two. Mayo Clinic's Web site states that it can last for up to 8 weeks! So what can I do in the meantime?

I've washed all the clothes I was wearing, both in the garden and at my friend's house, to make sure if there is any oil on those items it is loooong gone. I've been using anti-itch cream on my arm but I'm a natural remedy girl so I looked into what else might help the itch go away until the rash goes away. Cool-water oatmeal baths can help, as well as cold, wet compresses throughout the day. As far as plants, many sufferers have posted online that tea tree oil, aloe vera and flaxseed all really help with itching and quicker healing.

We sell a Tea Tree Therapy Cleansing Bar by Desert Essence and Florasone Cream by Boericke & Tafel. I'm planning on buying this cream to see how well it works! It is a natural alternative to cortisone creams and has a natural fragrance.

Let us know if you have any home remedies you use when poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac strikes at your household, or any stories you'd like to share. Stay safe out there!

Minute Clinic - Poison Ivy

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