I am a Boy Scout Eagle Scout. And proud of it. I’ve learned so much from my days in BSA. Especially how to deal with the likes of poison ivy.
I guess I have fallen down on the job and not taught my wife and kids what it is, how to identify it and what to do if you are exposed to it. You guessed it. My wife has poison ivy. Not sure where she got it. I cleaned out the flowerbeds this year .. no poison ivy there. I cleaned out the raised beds and there is no poison ivy there. The only thing I can think is Shadow and I went running trails at Sugar Creek reserve and it may be on Shadow’s fur. When I get home from any run I head straight to the laundry room and toss my stuff in the washing machine and look for matching dirty clothes and wash the load. OK .. maybe not every time but at least 92.875% of the time. 🙂 So I’m thinking Shadow needs a bath and we may have to give up trails at Sugarcreek. If I could just get her to use the treadmill ….
OK .. treating poison ivy rashes for me it fairly easy. I rarely get one and when I do it’s not too bad. For me prevention is first. If I know I am working in poison ivy I rub down all exposed skin with a Dove soap bar PRIOR to working in the PI. Then as soon as I finish I get a shower. And toss all my clothes, work gloves and shoes in the washing machine. Yes, the urushiol is washed out using normal laundry detergent. EXCEPT for leathers … for some reason the urushiol bonds with the leather and won’t release. That’s why I always wear cloth or rubber coated work gloves when dealing with PI.
If you are exposed to PI the first thing you need to do is rinse the exposed areas with rubbing alcohol. Then rinse the said area with cool water. THEN wash with soap and water. If you wash first the soap and water will spread the oil. By rinsing with rubbing alcohol first it breaks the bond the oil forms with the skin. Rinsing in cool water washes the urushiol off. Scrubbing with soapy water last cleanses everything else off. I know you are going to ask .. why rub down with the Dove bar if it only spreads the oil … well the rub-down puts a thin later of soap on the skin and the oil cannot bond with your skin. And getting the shower as soon as you finish washes everything off.
If you are unlucky and you get a rash (I read somewhere that 50% to 80% of people exposed to PI end up with a rash) all you can do is treat the symptoms. The blisters and rash occur where the oil bonded with the skin. You cannot get PI by touching the rash or the liquid in the blisters. You only get it from the urushiol. Taking a Benadryl and washing the area with cool soapy water is best. Your goal is to dry out that area. A cream with hydrocortisone is highly recommended as well. Scratching a rash is the worst thing you can do. If you break the skin or blisters you run the risk of getting an infection on top of the PI and that only makes matters worse. Dabbing rubbing alcohol on the rash helps to cool the skin and lessens the itch temporarily. But it does help. I’ve used the jewelweed treatment with some success but once the rash sets in, it’s there for 7 to 14 days. Best bet is hydrocortisone creams and benadryl.