I have never had Poison Ivy, Oak, or Sumac before and therefore never really paid attention to its whereabouts. Well, apparently I am allergic to that fucking urushiol (u-ROO-she-ol) oil that is all over the above mentioned plants.
Shannon and I cut a tree down on a Saturday and the following Wednesday I noticed that I had a very itchy spot on my right shoulder blade. At first I thought I had chiggers since I was working out with the girls soccer team and we are doing pushups etc. on the grass. However, it spread and began to blister and Shannon's dad said, "Oh, that's Poison Ivy."
Mine is either Poison Ivy/Sumac (not 100% sure). I of course have looked at whatever I can find online and tried just about everything. Here is a rundown of the shit that does not work (at least not for me):
1. Cortisone Cream. This over the counter stuff is so low dosage that it did absolutely nothing.
2. Benadryl. One of these is a joke and two just made me drowsy. My best night of sleep was after a couple beers and then two Benadryl.
3. Calamine Lotion. While this felt amazing as I was putting it on my oozing blisters of misery, it really did nothing to decrease the itchy disaster that I was dealing with.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar. I think that this felt good because it burned a bit and made me forget about the itch, it may have dried the blisters out some, but it was hard to tell.
5. Rubbing Alcohol. I wish I could have taken a bath in this, the burn that it gave was amazing. Is that weird to say? No kidding, I really wanted to rub some salt on these blisters then pour the rubbing alcohol on…
6. Epsom Salts. I took a super hot bath with Epsom Salts. It was a strange feeling, it felt good, but at the same time I was still so miserable. The bath ended with no improvement in my symptoms.
7. Baking Soda. I read somewhere to try a baking soda and water paste on the blisters. It definitely felt good, but when I walked outside with it all over my legs and arms, not only did I look ridiculous, but Gabby started licking it off because it has a salty taste. I put it on a few places before bedtime and covered them with gauze, and while it offered relief, waking up in the middle of the night to find one bandage had fallen off and now my bed was covered in baking soda was a definite downfall.
8. The best thing that I found to work was a super hot shower. I am strongly against hot showers in the summer, I never take them. However, I read that taking one releases the histamine (what causes the insane itch) giving you up to 8 hours of relief. It worked! The first night I tried this I woke up about half way through the night and ended up taking another scalding shower, but it worked and has been my saving grace. The hot water produces an increased itch at first, but then as you increase the temperature of the water that goes away, and…relief. It takes me a while to get through this since I am working on getting most of my body taken care of, but the end result is worth it.
I was able to go to the doctor early this morning and get a steroid. I figure since about a quarter of my body is covered with this uncomfortable mess I should probably see a professional. Especially since it seems that every morning I wake up to more red, itchy spots. Tomorrow will be two weeks since I was exposed to this shit and yesterday was a week since my body started reacting.
I was of course concerned about this spreading to my husband and kids (I had always heard that it could spread) so I did not research and found out that it cannot spread. Once the oil has been washed from your skin you cannot spread it to someone else or to another part of your body. If your clothing, a pet, or something else came in contact with the oil from the plant that can then rub off on you, but if they too have been washed then you are safe.
The allergic reaction to one of these plants will often occur in stages. Many times you will have an area on your body where the rash pops up first and is more severe, this area has been exposed to a higher concentration of the urushiol oil, and the areas that were exposed to a lesser concentration of the oil will likely show up later and be less severe. Just like touching an affected area of your body once it has been washed will not cause it to spread, scratching an area affected by the oil will not cause it to spread. The scratching may cause the area to become infected, but it will not cause it to spread.