It’s been three days since I was in the garden and the poison ivy on my arms gets worse by the hour. The first day I thought: “Well, this isn’t bad. Just some bumps and some slight itching.” Now I want to amputate my arms with a butter knife.
Why do I have to learn everything the hard way? I took precautions, but not with the clothes washing. As I was putting my overalls in the washer, I realized they probably had the poison ivy oil all over them, since I was hunkered down in the stuff pulling it out to save the other plants which would surely have died had I used RoundUp. But it was too late, though I made a bee-line to the sink to wash my hands and arms. The rash took but an hour or so to appear.
So here’s some tips that I’ve learned: Use plastic bags OVER your long-armed gloves to pull the ivy out, and wrap the ivy up in those bags. Don’t weed whack because it sends tiny ivy particles into the air. Also don’t mow poison ivy because it does the same thing. Don’t set fire to the plant because the smoke can contain particles of oil that can get into your lungs. Don’t touch your clothes with your hands. Take them off outside and use a bag to pick them up and wash them immediately in hot water with Clorox. Leave your shoes outside and hose them down. If you know you’ve been exposed, wash immediately first with isopropyl alcohol, then water, then soap and water, and then soap and water again. You can’t wash too much….apparently.
Treatment is dependent upon the severity of the rash. I may seek something steroidal by tomorrow. Ice packs help. Forty-percent zinc cream (that white stuff you see on noses at the beach) helps with the itching but only temporarily, like about an hour. Cool-then-warm showers seem to help. Scratching will not spread the rash (unless there is still oil on the skin), but will definitely exacerbate it and make it itch more. Scratching also causes welts, which themselves can cause more itching. There is also the potential for infection from scratching. The only real relief I’ve gotten is by being distracted. You can’t catch poison ivy from someone else, but believe me when I say this rash is so ugly, no one in their right mind would come close enough to me to worry about getting it.
There’s still more poison ivy out there, and so I’ll be pulling more when this rain stops. But this time I’ll treat it like it’s radioactive. I won’t be going through this again, that’s for sure.