View Full Version : Poison ivy/oak/sumac

2008-09-26, 05:34
The oils those plants put out are the bane to my warm weather hiking. I used have no reaction to poison anything until a few years ago. I got hit on the back of the neck with poison sumac and ended up in the emergency room.

I have tried ivy wash. And it just spreads it.

I found things to dry it up faster. Ivy stop and deep forest glycerin soap (found in gatlinburg and contains tea tree, eucaslyptus, and lavender oils).

Anyone else have some suggestions (other than wearing long pants during the summer when I hike like I did this summer)??

2008-09-26, 13:50
You could say I am somewhat of an expert on this subject. I grew up in northern Connecticut in the woods. I was hypo-allergic to poison ivy. So EVERY summer I would spend at least a few weeks covered 30% to 70% of my body with poison ivy. My Mom's "wive's tales" treatment was to cover the bubbling rashes with vinegar/salt mixture, and cover that with bandages. Eventually it dried up, but I sure developed a lot of mental discipline at a young age, resisting weeks of crawling-itching agony day and night. I remember a couple of times my eyes even swole shut and I had to be carried to the bathroom, etc.
I tried many different remedies, including calamine, calahyst, witch hazel, etc.

Fast forward to my early 20s, when I had a friend in organic chemistry that had an allergy to poison ivy. He would break open all the blisters with a cloth saturated with hydrogen peroxide, what you get over-the-counter from the local store. The oils inside would foam up for a little while as he kept applying the H2O2. This dissolves all the organic oils in the blisters, as well as on the skin, so it does not spread. After the blisters stop making oils, indicated by no more foaming, the skin is air-dried, and either let alone or some calamine applied to further the drying. 2-3 weeks of agony every summer for me turned into 2 days and it's all dried up and gone. That has remained my treatment for the past 20 years.
I have learned that recognition and avoidance is best. I live in Arizona now, and the poison oak out here is worse, stronger. This hydrogen peroxide treatment has never failed to relieve me of this malady within two days, sometimes three. I find that I am much less allergic to it than I used to be, as my body has changed, but I still get it if the dog runs through it and comes in for some petting. It is no big deal any more, where it used to terrify me every year, but did not keep me from spending most of my waking time in the woods.
I found that I got it most years when I was young, through neighbors burning it in their back yards. The urushiol oils are quite durable, and would settle on me and cover me with boils every year.
Anyway, that is my story and I am sticking to it.

2008-09-28, 01:22
The oils inside would foam up for a little while as he kept applying the H2O2. This dissolves all the organic oils in the blisters, as well as on the skin, so it does not spread.

Reading mhoram's post got me thinking (I think it may have had something to do with your name sleeps)... but I love amature chemistry, and I jump on any opportunity to learn more about how chemicals work. I have never been effected by poisonXXX the many times I've run into any of them, but I have had some limited experiance with and even more persistant natural oil, that has it's own unpleasant side effects. I am refering to skunk spray, and my most recent experience involved my sister's dog spredding the smell to some of my stuff when I was at her house.

Figuring that, "What's good for the goose is good for the gander." I figure using a skunk scent removing recipe may be good for other organic oils (Poison Ivy). I don't know if this (http://lavplourde.tripod.com/skunk/) is exactly what they used, but I know that commercial cleaners failed them so they used a home brew cleaner that used baking soda and peroxide to get the smell off of the dog (And their stuff) I personally used Oxyclean to get the smell out of my stuff, and it worked well, but I find it interesting that they call this formula an oxygen generator, and that's exactly Oxyclean's selling point.

You said that comercial poison Ivy soaps have failed you. This may work... I expect that it would, Especially if used as soon as you suspect you came into contact with poison Ivy. Oxyclean may help too, especially if you are looking to pack something with you. It is a powder and it is probably easier to pack than the comercial cleaners they recomended on that site... On a whim I just did a search on poison Ivy and Oxyclean and many people say it will take poison Ivy out of clothes... But a few say it will peel the skin if left on too long. If you go this route you will prolly want to test it, and rinse it very completely

2008-09-29, 18:45

A chemical burn does not sound like the best way to treat poison ivy. I am as hypersensitive as anyone else. I've picked it up from doing my kids' laundry and from a very slight contact in my yard, followed by immediate and repeated washing with Technu. Even with prednisone, it takes a minimum of 6 weeks for me to clear up a poison ivy bout.

I have found one thing that helps me. Look in your local health food stores for a homeopathic preparation called "Rhus Tox." It is made from the toxin in poison ivy and similar oils. Homeopathic remedies tend to rely on a bit of "the hair of the dog." Since I started taking some immediately when I thought I was exposed, I have not broken out. If the PI rash develops, taking Rhus Tox has sped healing far better than prednisone.

A friend swears by another concoction known as "BP-X" by Nature's Sunshine (I think). It is a detoxifying agent that she swears clears up PI from the inside out.

At least the Rhus Tox is reasonably easy to find.



2008-09-29, 20:35

A chemical burn does not sound like the best way to treat poison ivy. I am as hypersensitive as anyone else.

I agree, did a little more research, and the reason it would do this is because what is left after oxyclean fizzes is a base that is rated a little above mild. (If that sounds scarry, realize that traditional soap is a mild base... So it is a little stonger than that) Some people can't use the stuff at all, or can't touch the scooper in a tub of it without wearing gloves... I, on the oposite side of the spectrum have used my bare hands to grind the stuff directly into stains (For a fair ammount of time) and don't even wash the stuff off right away... no problem (again, for me)... it is all about how sensative your skin is to a base compound, and how well you rinse it with water afterward. I still think this would work, but I would say leave it at home. If your skin is sensative one way it probably is in another, and I also think the chemical violates LNT(If it doesn't break the specific rules it breaks the spirit of the law)

I also know that part of poison Ivy is an allergic reaction, have you, or anyone, tried taking benadril when you've had contact? (Granted if you don't get that pesky oil off you'll just break out when the stuff wears off)

I know that half the trouble with poison ivy is that you can get it from very incidental contact that you didn't even realize... That's why so many people recomend such strong preventative measures (like wearing pants and long sleeves)

2008-09-29, 22:06
Oh, yes, I've used Benadryl. It does not do enough. If I have more than a touch of poison ivy, as in a patch voer a few inches, I break out all over in a blush rash. Had a doc's eyes bulging out when I returned after a course of prednisone with the secondary rash...

Rosaleen, sometimes a very red Rose...

2008-09-29, 22:29
As a chemist...I live with the like dissolves like rule. My hubby Bearpaw insists that if you eat the scabs (EWWWW!!!) you will desensitize yourself. He's been doing that for years and he still breaks out sometimes but it doesn't itch or last long. I just can't get past the eww facor to try it. And my luck I would end up with the rash in my mouth. But I will try the oxyclean.

2008-09-29, 22:53
The "hair of the dog" cure is somewhat aligned with "like dissolves like."

You might consider the Rhus Tox from health food stores.

I've heard that goats can eat poison ivy and that their milk afterward contains PI anitbodies. Almost makes me want to keep a couple of goats. Feta cheese and Greek salads, anyone?


2008-09-30, 15:28
The hydrogen peroxide is a 3% topical that is really safe to use on skin. I have tried rhus tox with no results. The HP simply dissolves the oils by breaking them down, so there is nothing left to spread. It has worked for me and my family for quite a while. I like the idea of having your body get rid of it form inside, but it never did work for me, where the HP doesn't require doses or anything, and it is very quick.